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screamforadream
11-27-2012, 12:39 PM
Out of curiosity, who on here is not a hobbyist haunter, but someone who is very business orientated (either haunt owner or vendor), and what do you do to get that mindset??

I know that's an odd question, but I have been a hobbyist and non-profit haunter for the LONGEST time, and am in college right now, and I would like to not be just a hobbyist, but a very business-wise owner and operator. I don't have a business degree, and I am primarily educated in the school of hard knocks when it comes to this, but I want to hear what you do! What works? What doesn't?

I'm invested heavily in a new company to be vending at Transworld, which will be my full time career focus, and a stepping stone to something that I plan on making larger and growing with time.

Mistress DeSade
11-27-2012, 01:15 PM
I was in banking 21 years before I became a pro haunter (not sure which is scarier). Had been doing some small gigs over 20 years ago in addition to my "day job"...then became a home haunter and left banking for haunting full time in 2005.

Perhaps a mentor? It's easy to assume you're thinking as a business professional....but what you don't know will absolutely eat your lunch. Business professionals use business coaches all the time. The concept is the same.

Kathryn

Grimley
11-28-2012, 12:26 AM
What I have learned from 7 years of running an online retail store....

1. Customer Service is the most important aspect of what you will be doing. This is the supreme rule! Fall short here and you will fail quickly.

2. Accept the fact that you will make many expensive mistakes.

3. Make spreadsheets for everything. Especially if you are not a math wiz or business savvy.

4. Establish your breakeven cost for every single product you are going to make. (This is critical: You must know what you are making)

5. This is an extremely small industry. Screw over one person and everyone will know about it. See #1

6. Learn to negotiate.

7. Don't involve partners unless you absolutely have too.

BrotherMysterio
11-28-2012, 01:21 AM
Don't think like a wantrepreneur (http://www.hauntworld.com/haunted_house_forums/showthread.php?19178-quot-Wantrepreneur-quot-my-new-favorite-word), or do wantrepreneur things. (http://www.hauntworld.com/haunted_house_forums/showthread.php?19178-quot-Wantrepreneur-quot-my-new-favorite-word) That is a monumental waste of time, energy, and resources.

Instead, spend that time learning the craft. That's vital. Work for pro-haunts that are actually turning a profit, and see how they actually do it. Turning a profit . . . and paying their cast, crew, and creditors, which is the only legitimate way to conduct business, be it paid staff, or if a volunteer staff, the requisite value is paid out to the worthy cause that was negotiated for in return for the volunteer help.

C.

Greg Chrise
11-28-2012, 10:05 AM
You don't need to use spread sheet, pens and paper are just as good. What is fixed in your head is even better.

I think alot of what I do every day was engrained from working for Boeing Aerospace for 8 years and a couple stupid things they had us do. Every day there is a report of what you did today, a log if you will even if no one reads it, this wil be how you know how much to bill for work completed or estimate any future work. You can do silly organizational things like draw out a flow chart of what has to be done and the steps that need to be completed, then go several steps further and see what can be done in parallel task wise. This is where you kind of overlap what people will be doing and making sure the resources aren't being waited on.

Eventually you can do the flow chart thing in your head and this becomes "thinking on your feet". YOu might not have to go back and check what you wrote into your logs but can in a sticky situation but the act of doing things made you realize inefficiencies, how many times someone didn't do what they were asked to do or pretty much might not be capable or otherwise don't care.

My present day logs are something I whip out every day and even write down every expense, that becomes the accounting. Still no spread sheets or computer data entry. No reliance on something that is going to crash and be a loss. On the other side of the scale, having what happened down, you always have a list going of what can happen of about 50 places to finish some task or provide some service that brings in money. Some percentage of those will never happen but you follow up on those lists of making money constantly until they do bring in money or fade away.

Even though you decide you are some kind of independent entity, you aren't. The real network you have to create are not people hanging out in a bar sharing what ifs, you need to build a network of people who routinely call you and want to give you money. Preferably thousands of dollars instead of $5 hustles.

Then it is a constant knowledge of what it costs you per day to have an organization and then matching whether the conversations you are having are going to pay for that or are coming from some other perspective. You can only afford to spend a small amount of time on things that are maybe a hobby or do not lead to a relationship that is going to earn you and your staff an income. You end up with matching who needs something and who can do something. This doesn't mean you should aspire to become a fat guy with an automatic dialer either. Many business people seem to think the "dispatcher" is who makes the money and it may take years but they always crash big time for that thinking. The gys who survive long term actually do things and can surround themselves with a crew on short notice or full time or actually make that amount of money by themselves.

The opportunities of the world usually involve enjoying and being willing to regularly do things that other people think they should just have to call someone or don't want to actually do this thing that is work. The mechanics look more over time like you have taught yourself to actually do everything you are expecting others to do.

And there is no routine. How it was done in the past and who you worked with constantly changes. So old school, institutional training and little lists of routines generally are something that hinders over all progress. The entire suposed failing of the present day economy is the falling apart of the last 50 years of everything should be the same, this is the way you do this, just because that is the way we have always done this. Of course it was inefficient and you also have to pay for some asshole with a clip board or a white board or a spread sheet and the modern world doesn't want to pay for crap like that. They only want to pay the guy who is going to get results without excuses. The market seeks this out.

The advantage of being self employed is that at no time is there really going to be some one else has decided it is over. No one is cutting back, going to do things differently or decide it was a short term deal. The common person gets on a salary or paycheck and has no idea what it takes proportionally to get that check every Friday and lots of time they don't care. If that pay check goes away despite they did all the inefficient things they were told to do, they wander around looking for the next comforable situation where so much is provided for them. That system doesn't seem to work anymore or maybe it never worked and massive amounts of money are required to start things and eventually finding new funding isn't happening at the levels they need and they die. You actually have to be able to do something or provide some service or product. Never adopting any of these efficiencies means where you get the money from is an every changing landscape and how you do things is a constant self learning process.

Instead of relying on people that can tell you how things were done 10 years ago, you learn first hand what you can do and how things work in the present and how they might work in the future. Sometimes the future takes decades to get here. Everyone wants a paycheck and everyone wants a service. So you become the bank. The cashflow instrument. As well as the person that can actually do this or that. Everyone think you get a bank involved when hell no that is who you are! You are the bank. You may have those places cash your checks for you but, you are the one matching where money comes from with how things are being completed. The bank isn't going to do that for you.

You no longer hang out some place for 8 hours and then try to forget about your day when you can totally accomplish some paying task in 3 hours. Or if the market demands you spend 12 hour days accomplishing 4 times what people normally put out sticking to their routine that gets them a paycheck or keeps them in their comfort zone a little longer.

There has to be something to make people call and want to give you money. You have the skills, the tools, the moves that accomplish things no one else has developed, are willing to do the work when others want to call someone or think about how to do something. The knowledge you develop, the insight you have internalized actually shapes markets and pretty much over time, the market is doing things your way and you just happen to have what they need to do the job. It is never this is what everyone else is doing. It is more like here is what everyone else is lacks about or improperly motivated to do. Or while everyone was filling out their daily planner and stamping forms, putting what they had for lunch on facebook, we completed this thing that costs X amount of dollars. Where is my money. Or rather "our" money.

Generally all the things I bitch about, lets put together some kind of study or form a board of directors or get a clip board are little tell tale signs you are dealing with people aren't in efficient mode, don't care if anyone is making money or not or doing things that are at the expense of others. That is subtle but who is supporting this crap, who told them to do this crap and it would all work out for them, how long do they keep repeating stupid crap before they find themselves at a different place doing the same crap. Just rise above the crap.

If there is something you lack in skill set, do it for a while. Do it different ways so you have something to compare different ways of doing things. Build other people to stretch their skill sets instead of just being some lug sitting around waiting for something. As others learn how to play the game eventually people are working FOR you as opposed to being someone you have to come up with a paycheck for. On the other side of the scale, marketing is nothing more than educating people what they should consider or could do. How to do it and why maybe it should be something they pay you and your organization for. You might talk to the same people for 5 years before they go ahead with something. It is generally never something that is magical and just because you did this someone bought it.

Eventually no matter where people turn, your name comes up as the guy they should really be talking to. Because you demonstrated to so many that you can do something. It isn't because you put out coupons or drive around with a sign on your vehicle. People with real money and real issues find services that really match their needs eventually. Then they veer off and try to find the next best thing, then they come back again. Or you posture yourself in the position to serve all the people that have already been screwed over and have loyalty to some degree to begin with.

And this concludes my time alotment for daily stupidity.

screamforadream
11-28-2012, 10:42 AM
Greg, I don't think my life would be the same if you weren't in it lol.

Thanks for the input guys, I'm slowly trying to work my way up to the level in which I can make this a full time profession, so I really look forward to continue hearing what people have to say around here. Everyone's input is extremely helpful!

scottylmt
11-29-2012, 12:21 PM
I read your question as how to transfer from doing something for fun, to how to actually make money and eventually be successful. I believe I can add value to this thread because of my history of owning successful businesses.

When I was very young, I was given a $20 bill for Christmas. It was a brand new crisp bill, and the first one I had ever seen. Later that night I found myself SMELLING it. The next day, when my parents took me to target to buy a toy, I looked at all the things I could buy, so many things. Ultimately, I bought nothing. I sat in the back seat and pulled the 20 from its envelope, smelled it and got excited about all those things that I COULD'VE bought. I was hooked.

I got an AM paper route at age 11. Age twelve I added the neighboring route, so I was at over two hundred houses a day. My favorite day of the month was collection day, where I got to count, and smell lol, all that money. That was soon not enough, so at age 14 I started buying BEANIE BABIES locally, and selling them on the internet. That went on for two years and I profited thousands; I even sold three to my principle while being disciplined in her office lol.

I worked two jobs in high school, while pursuing a less "legal" business, selling goods with a very limited market. That venture paid for my massage college tho. So now I'm 30 and have been totally self employed for 8+years.

All that is to say this... what made me an "entrepreneur" is an obsession with two things: money just for having it, and the game of making more money. The first rule of actually making money is simple: don't spend or borrow more than you will make.

The trick is knowing your market; who will spend money on what you provide? What will they EXPECT? What will WOW them? Which WORDS will appeal to them? That last question I believe is the most important, because its what gets them to your office/website.

scottylmt
11-29-2012, 12:36 PM
Sorry my phone screwed up.

So words... if your neck hurts every time you turn to the right, and somebody has convinced you to find a massage therapist, while browsing options in the phone book, which would you contact? "Absolutely Serenity Day Spa", "Relax and rejuvenate Massage", or "The Muscle Medics: The Pain Specialists." People think their wants and desires and needs are unique, so everybody wants a specialist ; you have to position yourself as one. If I need a product for my business, I am going to find a SPECIALIST for that particular thing. The best part about being a specialist... ppl expect to pay you more. I read once about an insurance agent in California who advertised as a motorcycle insurance specialist when nobody else was... his agency exploded in a year. This is one trick to make more than you spend.

It seems to me like you are quite successful already tho Bobby, so I am a bit perplexed by your question?

scottylmt
11-29-2012, 12:50 PM
OK I re read. The last thing you want is a biz degree; it will waste your time by giving you too much info that's not specific to your life. To be profitable, always know exactly how much you're spending, and exactly how much you're making. Its really that easy. You'll find tons of accounting software but its really not necessary. Figure out what you can and cannot write off, and keep your expense info handy for tax time. Total everything up and you're done. Have your accountant fill out the papers if you want an extra layer of "protection," I always do, if only to know for sure I didn't screw something up.

If you come up short, then two things happened: you spent too much, and you didn't make enough. Evaluate how you can do better on both sides, and implement.

Old business is more profitable than new business, so always do something to impress your current customers. Deliver early, or deliver more than expected. If you make a mistake on my product, you're expected to fix it for free... but you can IMPRESS me by sending me a free shipping label! Take the times that bad shit comes up for what they are, an opportunity to further solidify and impress an existing customer.

screamforadream
11-29-2012, 02:25 PM
Scotty, I really appreciate your input!

I want to know and ask because...well, anyone can be successful, but there's so many different levels of success that my definition of success can be COMPLETELY different than someone elses.

Eventually, I just want to make it to the top, learn and acquire more information, and get better at this, so in 20 years, if someone thinks "haunted attraction" my name is included in the list of the other people you already think of, like kirchner, mccurdy, armstrong, one day, I aspire to be at that level, and I know it will not happen overnight, or this coming haunt year, but each and every year, I want to work as hard as I can to be something, to learn from my failures as well as my successes. And most importantly, eventually be able to sustain myself, and my family, with something I care about so copiously.

Right now, I'm trying to find a balance of things to keep me with a steady income year round, DJ-ing is nice, but summer months I work like a dog, and come October/November and February/March, it's VERY slow. Haunting fills in October. Lifeguarding fills up my days during the summer. And I really do NOT want to lifeguard anymore, it's a HORRIBLE job (atleast in CT! lol), so I'd really like to find the right way to benefit from haunting year round! I am still young, mold-able, and very eager to learn, and I think that eventually, I can do something really good in this industry :)

Allen H
11-30-2012, 02:29 AM
Bobby,
I make a living full time in the entertainment industry and serving the entertainment industry. I have four main sources of income. A monster museum at a Renniasance festival, Selling merchandise and services to Other haunted attractions, Working with and for a developing Haunted attraction that I do not own, and Owning and operating my own Haunted attraction.
Vending at Transworld will not sustain you alone. It might in ten years, but until then you will need other sources of income. You will not become a haunted house expert by DJing, you will not become a haunted house expert by doing anything other than working haunted houses. If you dont work haunts then you wont have the flow of ideas that a vending business needs to keep new products coming. I have ideas for haunt products every day, I have so many ideas I will never get to make them all. I think I am not special, I think the ideas come to me because I have worked in haunts so often. I spent the time in the trenches when I was very young and still do. It is not uncommon for me to volunteer at other haunts the nights that my show is not open.
I dont know how old you are, but get to work. The sooner you jump in the sooner you will learn to swim. At seventeen I had worked haunts seasonally for 7 years and was co-owner of my first haunt already. Then I moved from MD to FL to work as an actor year round at a haunt. I helped with set dressing and learned stilts and make up in order to be complete.
Success for me is being able to do what I love each day. I did not always make money doing it, I have lived in some crummy places but learned a ton along the way- Im still learning. I am successful now because Im willing to share what I have learned- I do a lot of free consultation, and in the past five years paid consultation as well. My path is not the only one to success, but it worked for me.
Focus on learning now and earning later. Earning should happen when you have learned enough. If haunting is what you want to do, then what do you need money for? If you have three kids then you need money- I made sure that did not happen to me so I could learn more. Relax and Haunt, not just in October when the haunts are open, but all year long. Teach yourself costuming, sound and lighting (yes you are a DJ that does not mean you know sound). You cn watch all the videos on a topic on youtube, but you need to do it to learn it. Can you wire outlets? can you figure out the amp draw of your fog machines and lights on a circuit? learn how to solve small haunt problems because that is what big haunt problems are based on.
I guess my advice is learn everything, then implement what you have learned. Im a bit random here but I hope you get the jist, it sounds like you are on the right track so far to me.
Allen H

Greg Chrise
11-30-2012, 05:17 AM
For some reason that this season is for that and the other season is for something else doesn't work. For some stupid reason, where I'm located EVERYTHING happens in the spring and fall and in the winter everyone does nothing because it got below 50 degrees for a few hours a day and they do nothing in the summer because it gets around 100 degrees. Thanks to global warming we are still working this season on commercial swimming pools.

And even things like Allen suggested are sometimes not enough. I have intentionally not had children or a family to focus on having something. That and life is too crazy to put anyone else into this situation called life has been my excuse. And one of my half baked theories studying business has been easy to see, you drive around in Texas as our jobs run around a 200 mile area and read the business signs. Bob's Air Conditioning and Taxedermy. Air Conditioning and Gun Shop. Air Conditioning and Arts and Crafts supplies. Transmission repair and ATV head quarters.

So I try to imagine how this works. So everyone wants to do air conditioning and there are only so many air conditioners or people that have money to get their systems maintained and 20 air conditioning services, then even that is a seasonal business. They work most of the summer into the days and nights when it is 105 degrees and then there is 6 months where somehow hunting and fishing, their hobby tries to fill in the time. Pawn shop and Bait and tackle? Some of this is just screwed up. We can give you $15 for that microwave on a 400% loan payment and sell you a cup of worms.

A few years ago I went down a little rabbit hole of weirdness. I saw in California some guy made a bunch of bumper cars out of bicycles. I thought it was so cool I ran around and began buying bicycles for $5 and $20. One of them I took to a bike shop and spent $250 on it. More because it was an excuse to see what is in a bicycle shop and what do they do here, what do they have, how much do they charge. How do they run their business and how much money does it make? A comparison. So I see every bicycle shop has exactly 80 bicycles and ever big box store has 800 bicycles in stock. I'm actually counting inventory and making notes. Every bicycle shop has 4 of 5 people standing around to sell me a $4 set of hand grips and only one guy is actually trying to figure out how to get a chain on a bicycle. There are two times of year where it is perhaps really happening where everyone is doing something.

So outside, you see 4 trucks and vans and everyone has signs on their trucks that they are or have been their own bicycle company at one time, or still do work at home as well as at some shop. The way I imagine it works is East Texas not much is really done here but people go to the oil and gas fields in other parts of the country and make lots of money and the younger guys buy that $5500 super duper mountain bike whether that makes any sense or not. They spend more money having things customized whether that makes any sense, some reward for working long hours making good pay and perhaps risking death everyday or major injury and they have freinds that also have bikes and they will have the best and most high tech bike ever.

Then it comes down to financials. The store that built my bike did some amazing things and picked out some amazing parts and probably made $100 labor on that $250. They had actually been from my town and went through my haunted house and asked if I could make them a giant rock for their front window to sho off mountain bikes. Hell Yes I can make a whole mountain with bike racks that are kind of hidden in the structure and a neon red sign carved into the rock. I went home and drew it up so it could be taken into a few pieces and go through doors, be transported with just a pickup truck and even the two halves become a wall display if they got tired of it being in the front windows. You could be a total star and take it to trade shows and there you go. $1200. Mind you this store was near Dallas, not in my town so once every few weeks I would stop by. I was told everyone involved loved my design and was excited about it and they are just now working on financing the next wave of merchandise and are also going to be getting into excersize equipment. A month later they were out of business and lots of the inventory and racks were locked up in there by the landlord. Guess that loan didn't come through. For years there has been a for lease sign over their nice light up sign and logo and from the hiway you can still see a few racks and bicycle wheels poking out from all the construction crap the landlord is using it as storage working on other units and still not renting it out because he probably expects to someday collect because they signed a lease for 5 years and still have to pay the money wether they are actually using the place or not.

So how did this happen to these guys? Well, they originally had good jobs with some big shipping company and decided to quit. Their wives all had jobs and they did bike and work on things as a hobby for recreation. Except they really weren't good mechanics. I brough my creation home and in a matter of minutes finished 3 things they hadn't even figured out how they are supposed to be. Oh fuck here we go again, I'm a better naturally skilled mechanic than these guys, why don't I have a bicycle repair business?

So for $300 you can buy business plan software to become a bicycle retailer. You can join the American Bicycle Retail Group and they send a news letter of what is happening in the industry ever month! It's only $175 per year membership! For $350 you get a tote bag too! So of course I find all the info over time anyhow without paying money and discover there is a supposed formula, every successful bicycle store seems to be one guy and 4,000 SF show room and everything is supposed to look like jewelry and pretty much what is happening is they have to buy a truck load or more of bicycles and stock only what the distributors tell them should be in the store. And you get to go to conventions and share your bicycle stories and drink with other bicycle shop owners. Except the pictures show these are people I really don't feel compelled to hang out with. I'm not putting on any spandex suit with gel cushions in the crotch. It just isn't happening and my day job has me so worn out, yeah sure I'm taking 50 mile bicycle trips for fun. Nope not happening. I might go 1/3rd of a mile to the dollar store or ride my bicycle to buy cigarettes. Sure that makes sense.

So following this dream of having a bicycle store, even the successful ones if you follow the money there was an old dude that started it in the 70's and sold it to his kids or is also still in the if it makes a profit mode. The corporations are this guys daughter owns the company and the husband just works there like the main slave and she tells him what kind of vehicle he can drive around because they have a little kid now. Everyone there or in many of the stores has another job, a wife with a good job and accepts them for being a low life, is some doctors kid that they are trying to keep from sitting at home playing Xbox or they are older and the physical kind of dudes that are on military pensions and working for cash part time. No one is really living the dream here. And everyone of those shops costs $6,000 to $8,000 per month plus what ever everyone earns on straight commision. Not regular paychecks. Okay fine. SO that is in this town a $5,000 to an $8,000 per year income. Just enough to get to work and eat every day. That is all. And someone had to pay for the inventory either over time or entire families all got together and kept funding the thing.

So there are two stores making about $250,000 and it is pretty easy to see how they have to spend it to keep it going. If there was another bicycle shop it would hurt them and their complete family tree of decades of sacrifice. If you go find the warehouses of bicycle suppliers, they hand you a credit application. You can't just give them money? Oh no you have to qualify to be a sucker first and then they might load a trailer in Washington state and send it here and you have to do what they tell you. The sales rep will come by and inspect your show room and tell you what shouldn't be there distracting from selling whole bicycles and spandex pants with gel croutches. That doesnt sound like fun. Oh and you can't sell also on the internet, it has to be only from customers at your retail location. That sucks. Still somehow people have been convinced by this over all business success scam to be commited to doing this as a life style for years and years. It isn't because they are getting rich. Infact all kinds of other things are working against them. Every big box store has more higher end bikes now and literally 800 of them right there in stock, not have to order. So there are 5 other places that have as many bicycles as the entire town could possibly consume all in inventory, a whole years supply right there.

So I find internet bicycle dudes and even ebay stores I'm adding up every customer feed back and they are making $10,000 per week! Selling warehouses full of crap their father had stock piled in the 70's and then died. And to make that money they are posting something in 4 different locations from 7AM to 12PM every 15 minute. What kind of life is that? Or how many people are posting to make $15 on a 1970's original bananna seat. What is wrong with these people and when will they stroke out doing that? I can track and see they buy everyone else's ebay crap and it shows up a month later and every bike shop has a back room of crap the retailers said you had to stock.

Oh and to be a real bicycle mechanic there are only $6,000 worth of tools you should have or you can't take anything apart or build anything. So after years of studying and comparing, and stalking people enough to know their real deal and income and life style and demands of their life, I have about 60 used bikes here that will become decor and strange things for a clown haunt. Kind of what I started out to do after years of study. I saw other things I investigated. Searching on the internet was 12 times anything Halloween. Yet the actual money of the whole industry is about the same as haunted houses or one 1200 store locations of an autoparts chain. So there is a whole lot of people proclaiming to be a professional something and not a lot of real hard cold pay off.

Still people do things because they are good at something, have some skill and just want to eat everyday. I now have the entire trappings of an underground bicycle shop here and it amounts to making $130 a year maybe. Of course it doesn't matter because someday I'm just going to take my stack of rusty barbie bikes and do clown paint jobs on them and a stupid $5 bicycle combined with $2 in paint and a $2 inner tube becomes a prop that entertains 40,000 people over a few years.

Many of the older dudes I met early on in the haunt deals also made me question what their real incomes were or why they did this. Or we stood together wondering why something hyped up needed to be bought at all. It totally escaped us in it's function and now I know there are people that work other jobs and will buy that $2500 prop and pay $50,000 a year for a haunt location because they can and it makes them quite proud. The money might not have come from where it is supposed to, like ticket buying customers, so it is more like they are sponsoring very large parties for the community at large.

What really happens is just like Transmission repair and taxedermy. Even the most productive vendors hitting all the top show might make $10,000 and then they have a haunt and it is so upside down in funding that it is some kind of investment that is going to pay off some day and they make $10,000. The only ones that are making it make things out of crap and their places are paid for, no rent or mortgage and it took 15 years before people were trained to come there every year to be able to make $50,000 and half of that goes into building the next years crap and all the advertising is a full time job doing what ever type of marketing can be done with no or little money spent. Plain and simple. Who exactly do you want to be like. What are the moves, the tools, the rules. It is more like the stock market. You build up a bunch of crap and after many years it starts to look like something really neat them people with lots of money start doing it too. So while it is hot and everyone thinks it is so cool and things could really happen you sell them all your stuff.

And I have watched some guys build up locations and totally sell out half a dozen times in 20 years.

So when someone gets on here and uses words like business plan, mentor, internship....YOu are doing it wrong.

Greg Chrise
11-30-2012, 05:46 AM
If you go back 30 or 50 years or even 100 years, there were no big box stores of conventions to go buy all of your things you needed to have a haunted house. Instead you sculpted things and had the molds and every few years cast what you needed to maintain your props. Even if the haunt burned down on the pier on the beach or the waves took it all away, the molds were inland in a safe location and you poured yourself a new haunt. Instead of buying a mask for $175 you figure out how to make it for $30 or less in actual materials. You get paid as customers buy a ticket.

And perhaps this is where haunting lost something. People like Allen are making tenticals on Utoob and that is really entertaining and funny and in a haunted house would be a big smile factor. Or you can just pay $600 for a tentacle from Tentacles are us and how much entertainment value does that end up having? Actually it has a hidden dislike factor. Even being the best looking tentacle this side of the Mississippi, it gives off a different vibe. Allens tentacle will be that creative bastard scared me with that moving thing. The pro tentacle is I can't believe they spent so much money on all of this. So how does that work? People stand in line and hand you $20 and you buy expensive toys or are you in the entertainment industry and scare people with a trash bag.

The whole bigger better marketing thing comes off like being a used car lot. The whole you too can be a haunted entrepeneur thing is so much mis information and nothing like what people that have actually succeeded done at all. People that did well didn't go fast an with big money unless they were taking over some existing business from an old dude that wanted out. Then they made it work. Otherwise they made things out of junk and people paid for half baked creativity as some kind of enthusiastic inspiration. What will they think of next as opposed to what will they buy next. It is subtle but can you see the different peception? Why do people go to a big box store and take a tour of the inventory but they will buy produce where the hand painted sign advertises Wallermellon.

Successful is actually at a more folksy level. Maybe the animtronic armagedon wars are doing okay but then why are those guys buying other kinds of businesses that aren't haunt related and aspire to have proffesions that are other than haunted houses. The grass is supposedly greener all the time somewhere else and really is some kind of front. A long cycle of how did you do. So eventually in the haunt market the young guys with shit loads of money from industrial employment and family support find out it only spent money and maybe for a decade it was a lot of fun. Then the older scroungers show up once again building crap out of nothing, building excitement and a whole new crop of very excited people wanting to quit their day jobs want to buy all your shit and run away with the circus.

The reality is like Allen has related. I have made sure I didn't have kids, lived in some really questionable places with no facilities to pull this off at times. Kept the burden of high rent and making payments on someone else's schedule out of the formula, actually learned all these things over time and am hands on making things instead of buying. You still buy some things but not lots of it. And not all of the yearly income comes from one event. It is more like there are always 5 things happening at one time. Something is always waiting for money, something esle is being designed on paper, something esle is being made, something esle is being sold and something esle is being done for someone that is paying for your services.

So Bobby, your reality might be taking DJing to the next level and become Deadmau5 and be a haunt operator and a haunt vendor and learn air conditioning and transmission repair and you will make it.

Greg Chrise
11-30-2012, 06:13 AM
The absolute reality is that everyone I have found to be freinds with long term that is successful one way or another has had to live without lots of things to have a successfull event. People living in haunts secretly with no money at times and having to figure out how to come up with money to eat. In the winter with no heat, sleeping in coffins. Or they took on some insurmountable all in gamble that luckily paid off. The ones that didn't make it alway site professional opportunities or health reasons rather than they lost the gamble.

I later ran into the bicycle shop guy that his place got locked up because that loan never came and he has already broken abot 4 other families with money and hopefulness and he just said the economy got him. He now at a rather older age lives with his mother again and works on bicycles out of the garage.

Same thing with some haunters, they are turning $200,000 every year and living at their parents home. The reality of listening to how everyone telling you how to grow a business with loans and obligations and somehow you are supposed to magically and every time do better than that and that is how you profit doesn't work. And the assholes wandering around telling you that if you don't profit you don't get to play anymore don't know how to make a profit so who are they to tell anyone what the pay off is? Maybe you do it because it IS your lifestyle. Perhaps all this talk of major profits and buying a nice car and a McMansion isn't how any of this works. Or you have to be a real dick and take advantage of people who want mentors and internships? You have to charge big bucks for consulting? And that is all you do? You don't actually do all the things you are telling people they should do? What's up with that?

So who are your real heros and what is their story? Their real story. It is tough in this day and age to find someone that does anything really. I want to know people that are the full deal. Make the things, sell the tickets, design the next thing. Dreaming about how business works doesn't really apply. Who says you need an attorney. Of course an attorney does. Who says you need an accountant and can't do it yourself. Of course an accountant. Who says you need a business degree? A business school. And so on. Over time you can do anything yourself and that is the big secret. Don't be baffled by bullshit and all the bewildering choices of all the things you are "supposed to do". Really? Who says and Why? If they aren't making you money you don't have to do it. It is something everyone else has been told and use as an excuse of why they can't do something. Oh shit I have no business plan. Oh shit I need a mentor and I need it right the fuck now! Yeah right.

Greg Chrise
11-30-2012, 06:37 AM
Everyone that works for me seems to have had a few good years as an employee somewhere making big bucks, or traveled the world as a celebrity with the tour making money for some production company. The the little couple year cycle of prosperity is over, they got used, are left with car payments they can't make, child support, living with their mother or being funded by their parents during these hard times. And there is no way any job, wether it is working for me or anywhere is going to make up for thousands and thousands of dollars of back log in any immediate time frame.

And if you try to get a job you are over qualified which is code for you have already been used up and spit out by the dream. So you can't trust anything. Some of us were shaken up really young with the trusting people thing and I think that is why there IS such a soul to all the haunt people. Nothing has to be a gamble really. It can be plain and simple. You make stuff, you get paid. Either you sell the stuff or display it for ticket buyers. If you sell stuff and sell it, you have to make another one to make money. If you show it as a tour, you get to keep the same one and sell just the viewing of it over and over for decades. Of course everything rots and rusts eventually. So you have to pace yourself because it is going to be a long on going do it over and over kind of thing so you better do what you really like doing. If you don't like it, don't do it.

And what is the worst that happens. You have to find some sketchy place and build it all over again. And it will take years to do it again. So you better like it. It better not have been someone else's business plan or prescribed method of risk. It has to be your own.

Allen H
11-30-2012, 10:02 AM
"So who are your real heros and what is their story? Their real story. It is tough in this day and age to find someone that does anything really. I want to know people that are the full deal. Make the things, sell the tickets, design the next thing. Dreaming about how business works doesn't really apply. Who says you need an attorney. Of course an attorney does. Who says you need an accountant and can't do it yourself. Of course an accountant. Who says you need a business degree? A business school. And so on. Over time you can do anything yourself and that is the big secret. Don't be baffled by bullshit and all the bewildering choices of all the things you are "supposed to do". Really? Who says and Why? If they aren't making you money you don't have to do it. It is something everyone else has been told and use as an excuse of why they can't do something. Oh shit I have no business plan. Oh shit I need a mentor and I need it right the fuck now! Yeah right."
This is from Greg's posts, read this if you dont read all of it.

screamforadream
11-30-2012, 10:51 AM
Greg, I agree with so much of what you said. And I actually read every single word, (thanks for believing in me Allen! lol :rolleyes: ) Also, Greg please never post again, create a new account, you're currently at 2,525 for posts and that's really cool TWENTYFIVETWENTYFIVE! Seriously though, I understand what you're conveying, the whole reason I posted in the first place was because of my family, my parents mainly, who don't have an ounce of faith in me succeeding in anything other than being a doctor, (not gonna happen? And I am apparently the anti-Christ for thinking I can do anything without being a doctor. So out of determination to prove that there are other successful and enjoyable professions out there, I made this post. (I'm 20 btw lol)

I appreciate your input too Allen, unfortunately I can't travel too far right now while I'm still in school, but in the meantime I am working on haunt stuff lit ally every minute I'm not in class, (hell I'm in Chemistry lecture right now!). I love your videos Allen, they've been a load of help for me for a LONG time. I also like using the "search bar" on here and go through a TON of old posts from years and years ago when this forums site was really booming.

I really do appreciate everything you guys are saying, and I enjoy reading your posts, (Greg you solidified my life choice of never owning a bike shop), and reading into what you're trying to say through those posts, (if someone's not making me money, why take them seriously, especially if it involves them having a gain while I suffer a loss? And why not just learn how to do things yourself and make something of yourself, without a wall full of degrees making themselves really expensive wallpaper!) I am definitely lucky to have mentors like you guys.

To be totally honest, some of my biggest heroes/people I consider an inspiration are people primarily from this forum, and in no specific order, obviously Allen and Greg, but also Ben Armstrong, Scotty, StGermain (a guy who owned a haunt in Mass but doesn't post on he often if at all, but I know him in real life thanks to this forum), Wayne, Larry, Kimmy, Heather, Shane, Eric, plus many others I can't pull off of the top of my head while listening to this old hag talk about general variation of electron affinity (as an exoteric quantity) withing the periodic table. She's not making replying to this very easy, lol.

BrotherMysterio
11-30-2012, 11:41 AM
Scotty, I really appreciate your input!

He is quite amazing, isn't he? ;)


I want to know and ask because...well, anyone can be successful, but there's so many different levels of success that my definition of success can be COMPLETELY different than someone elses.

Well, based on everything I've seen and learned, I've come to one particular conclusion: the haunt business is the one business that you can't afford to treat like a business, else your business will most likely fail. Principally because the opportunities for wantrepreneurial pitfalls are so great. Even without intending to, you can find yourself eaten by the alligator as you were distracted by other things.

(Then, how should you "treat it"? Stay tuned.)

What's more, I've never seen a single business in my life that, to be successful at it, you didn't need to master the craft before you can master the business, even the craft of effectively running any business, separate from the particulars of that specific business itself. (Iow, regardless of business, I'm sure someone like Scott would be successful at it once he learned those particular ropes.)

Haunting is one of those businesses that everyone thinks is so simple to run, especially someone who is something of a home haunter, and thinks that pro-haunting is simply nothing more than home-haunting, only with a bigger budget, bigger space, and a bigger shopping list (along with a few forms to fill out), when in fact nothing could be further from the truth. True, many of the creative processes are the same as far as theming, prop-making, and so on, and I've seen some home haunts that, creatively, give pro-haunters a run for their money.

While there may be a germ of truth in that, these would-be pro-haunters are looking at those metrics in geometrical terms, vs. exponential. Iow, if their home-haunt space is 200 sq ft. and their pro-haunt space is 4000 sq. ft., then they'll simple need 20 times the stuff they already have. That may seem like a reasonable assumption, and probably is if you are trying to figure out how much plywood and paint to order, but the logistical realities are far, far greater, and, particularly, the geometric vs. exponential quandary can play specific havoc on, among many other things, your available time, and how effectively you can get all this done on your own in a year.

Instead of you just throwing up a few wall panels in your garage or backyard and having your kids and a few of their friends act in it for a night or two, you actually have to find a location (a deal breaker for most); secure the location free and clear (lest being told to vacate the week before you open); either do some heavy modification to the location or creating a wall system that is totally free standing (enter: the building inspector and architecturally approved floor plans); run power and do lighting that you just can't plug into a wall (enter: the electrical engineer); run sound that's somewhat more involved than having one or two boomboxes sitting in a corner somewhere; making sure everything is safe and flame-retardant (enter: the fire marshal); having to hire a proper cast and crew (plus security and office staff); and making the FM, the BI, and the local board happy (lest being told you're "shut down" the week before you open) . . . vs. just having a few friends and family chip in for a night or two out of the year in your garage.

True, in that last bit, friends and family will go a long way towards helping you in the first few years, and your brother-in-law might very well be your security staff and your wife or girlfriend might very well be your office staff, but if you plan to go big, and have a sustainable business plan, you can't depend on having a few friends helping you out a few nights a year. You need to know you can have a sustainable business model that will grow and develop, with staff that is available for the whole season, regardless of whether family members can chip in or not.

And all of these necessities are sitting there, on the table, waiting for you to act on them, without having even thought about filling out one business form or bank loan form.

Iow, the business side of things is so vast, you simply can't play the wantrepreneurial game of getting an LLC, a cool logo, a $1000 website ("and those are 'friend prices'!":rolleyes:), a box of business cards with your name on it listed as CEO, writing a 40 page business plan (filled with such amusing fictions as, "we fully expect to have 20,000 patrons our first season, although we really don't plan to effectively promote our haunt" or "we have no contingency for paying back the loan if it happens to rain on one of 6 key money nights of the year" and so on), and hitting up every bank manager in town for that coveted $150,000 loan that "godfatherly" haunt consultants talk about needing to have (which, as it happens, just about covers their consulting fee), all that without even having learned the business, learned the craft, or having validated your particular version of it. ("'Validated'? What's that?" More on that later.)

Haunt wantrepreneurs will often dive head first into all of these things without learning the first thing about pro-haunting, about learning the craft, or even having worked in a pro haunted house, much less a legitimately profitable one. They tend to look at the whole "pro-haunting is really home-haunting with a bigger budget, bigger space, and bigger shopping list" idea in the most simplistic of terms, like it's some sort of dream business, like the retired couple in the banking commercial who dream of opening a bed and breakfast in a suitably rustic location without actually having any experience in entertaining, restauranteuring, or hospitality trades, or even much enjoy cooking and entertaining friends. "But, don't you hire chefs for that?"

Haunting lends itself to what I call "IES" . . . Instant Expert Syndrome. When someone encounters what engineers call a black box ("push-button" operational simplicity on the outside; mechanical complexity on the inside), and they figure it looks simple enough to do, suddenly they think they have it all figured out, and become something of an instant "expert" on it, overnight. This, for instance, is true of a car. A car is an engineering black box. It seems simple enough. You turn the wheel, the tires turn. You step on the gas, it goes. You step on the break, it stops. You change gears, it goes faster or slower. It seems simple enough until you pop the hood. Suddenly, that simplistic thinking all changes, and people start to appreciate the true complexity of the machinery. Even adding oil can prove too much of a challenge for some people who are perfectly capable of driving to the store and back to buy said oil.

Likewise, this can be especially true with home-haunters thinking that pro-haunting just takes a few extra steps than setting up a haunt in their garage. Rarely do they appreciate how complex things can get because they only time a lot of them get to "look under the hood" is when they actually try to launch their own pro-haunt, and realize just how complex - and pricey - it actually is. And, what's more, they are invariably doomed to failure if they do not first "validate" their business model.

"Validate their business model"? Well, I don't have time to go into it in this post, but in simple terms, you need to validate that your idea for a werewolf themed trail of terror, for instance, is a viable concept before you blow big bucks on it. Iow, you need to find out if people are willing to drive an hour outside of town to come and pay you $5-$10 to watch you and your friends dress up as werewolves and run around in the woods for an hour. If so, you might have something. If not, don't blow big bucks to create this über haunt that costs you tens of thousands of dollars to create (taking out a loan on your home in the process), with $25 tickets, plus $3 parking, only to discover no one's going to show up. And heaven forbid it should rain on Halloween weekend, or your local team makes it into the playoffs.

Incidentally, trick-or-treaters showing up to your home haunt isn't a legit validation, cuz they aren't there for your home haunt . . . they're there for the free candy. "Oh, but they do show up for my home haunt and not the candy! It's a neighborhood tradition! The highlight of many kid's Halloween!" Well, if you want to test that theory, move your "home haunt" 30 minutes away and see how many kids from your neighborhood show up, tradition or not.

So, what's the treatment or the approach to this business that can work better? Simply this. My stance is that until we get to those levels of excellence and success that you listed and that most of us aspire to, don't treat haunting like a "business" (in the wantrepreneurial sense, that is), but, rather, as: a passion, bordering on obsession, that we can't afford to do, but desperately have to do regardless. Think about that. A passion, bordering on obsession, that we can't afford to do, but desperately have to do regardless. You have to be passionate about it in order to be successful at it. You almost have to be obsessed about it in some respects, and unrelenting in your pursuit of excellence in it. Imagining that you couldn't afford it short circuits all the ridiculous blather about bank loans, absurd shopping lists, and delusions of big budget extravaganzas ("we spared no expense!"), but becasue you desperately had to do it anyway regardless, you'd start coming up with innovative, cost effective, cheap (or out-and-out free) ways of doing things that don't require hoping that your shipment from a tradeshow makes it to you on time.


Can't afford to buy 100 zombie masks? Make your own.
Can't make your own? Use minimal make-up and keep your actors in the shadows.
Can't afford to buy 100 zombie costumes? Hit the thrift stores and start distressing.
Can't afford theatrical lighting? Use a few landscape spots for $6 from Lowe's, or use Allen's LED minispots.
Can't afford to theme a complete circus motif? Paint every other wall panel a primary circus color and throw in some LED multi-color Christmas lights bought on clearance.
Can't afford the paint? Leave things rustic, or get unused, recycled paint.
Can't afford plywood for walls? See if a construction company can dump their discards at your location, which saves them on dump fees at the local landfill.
Still can't get plywood? Use two discarded pallets for a wall panel. Instant Ridley Scott effect.
Still can't do walls? Use a nearby patch of woods and do a trail of terror.
Can't afford animatronics? Use puppetry were applicable.
Can't afford a lot of cast? Use multiple scare zones that allow a few actors a lot of scare opportunities.
Can't afford a proper strobe light for $40 a pop? Make one for $5.
Can't afford corpses? Put them in body bags.
Can't afford a full sound system? Use MP3 players and computer speakers.
Can't afford to do a full season haunt? Find a charity that needs a fundraiser and do a halloween event that can turn into a haunt.
Can't make a haunt happen no matter what you do? . . .

. . . THEN HELP SOMEONE ELSE WITH THEIR HAUNT!!!!

You won't find these sorts of solutions listed in books on how to file LLC's or how to write "business plans, and other assorted fictions". You come up with these solutions when you are obsessed with doing something haunt related, no matter what.

This is how you learn the craft. This is how you become a pro-haunter.

C.

zombietoxin
11-30-2012, 05:10 PM
I can't believe I read that whole post- but I did! And I usually don't!

I agree. Well said. Absolutely true.

Could be the prologue to the Ultimate Haunters Guide...

son-of-sam
11-30-2012, 08:01 PM
I knew most of the extra needs a pro haunt needed prior to doing it [thats why I got the doors open and even passed the first FM visit and he LOVED my wiring and said it looked like I have been doing it for a long time LOL]. Something that I was not ready for was all the lyres. My marketer sold me a dream when it came to his marketing. The marketer owns two haunts in town and he put me on all the marketing that he did for his haunts. I thought ''if it works for him then it has got to work for me'' boy was I wrong. The marketer is real nice I just wish he would have told me he did not plan on doing everything he said and I needed to buy more marketing besides his LOL! Now I know why he owns a printing shop in the back of his haunts to help pay rent so he can sustain his location without going in the red. Even though it was tough I would not trade it for the world. To learn how to fight you actually have to fight. This last season taught me so much that I could of hired someone to consult and teach and I would of not learned half of what I learned from actually doing it. GREG hit on a real topic trust almost no one because everyone is trying to get in your pockets and they do not care if it makes you money after your check has been cashed. With you managing that haunt that you sold that is a GREAT thing. You get to learn from all the mistakes that you make without it costing you a dime since you do not own it you manage it.

Greg Chrise
11-30-2012, 10:05 PM
If you build things with some level of passion and craftmanship, people will come to you to service it.

Like if you had a home built, people call their home builder with questions about adding on or fixing where a tree took the corner of the garage off and deal with the insurance company.

Custom finishes, same thing, only the guy who installed it can really tell you how to maintain it or repair it.

And so over the years I observed all the stories of haunt failings and did better than that.

Some guy wants $2500 just for the drawing of a haunt. I can build a haunt and show it to you already built with a drawing or 5 drawings for $2500. It ran for years and the money came from the customers, it was time to redo all the fire retardant again and even with all the known expenses that were going to have to be done to maintain and upgrade it, it was a better deal than anyone else every offered.

So if you legitimately help someone out, instead of demanding $150,000 right now in unmarked bills, who knows how much money it can earn over 20 years or more with great relationships. Then it doesn't limit to the haunt either, lots of businesses anyone get into you are offered to participate in as well. Or when one does sell you get first dibs on being the guy who will sell it. You know how to sell one, probably know who needs one right now and it's how fast can the semis get back into town. No need to run an add in a magazine for 12 years trying to sell the same haunt.

I have seen haunts sold out of trailers at a truck yard where someone actually got $165,000 SBA loan and they sold the haunt for $10,000 just to pay storage fees not paid on the trailers. So they took the guys house and all is assets and some consultant "helped him" to that conclusion.

I've seen a guy talk a retired guy into building a bunch of walls and buying props with his meager retirement savings, then convinced a mall to let them have a huge space and only a couple thousand people showed up, the guy drove off with the ticket money, the mall locked up the building and sold the haunt and all it's contents for $23,000 to pay for the rent. The old guy lost his money. Earlier a couple if us from all across Texas listened to this guy tell us it was going to me a million dollar location. Really? Well talking with that fake English teacher accent doesn't mean you are smarter than I am.

Over and over another guy talks about finding a partner and somehow that partner never gets paid and everything ends up in court. Many times when it doesn't have to be some kind of fancy contract that is skewed to making sure you get paid. If you do great work it isn't a problem and you don't even need a contract.

I have gotten into things where investors are all of a sudden told that there is some other investor that will give money for less of a return and they think the original investor should go down on their return or they will use that new guy. Nope, just wait a week. Oh that other guy backed out and so we will pay the original rate you requested. Now there are two sides to that one. The idiot by so many years in shouldn't still be seeking more and more investor money, there should have been some amount held back in profits to become independent of that situation and the second thing is the guy shouldn't have tried to hustle people that backed him every year for a decade. Eventually he didn't get any money.

Many times on these forums I have mentioned being the bank. Just like you see some version of crime stoppers on the TV where you shouldn't give someone that walks up to your door and says they do roofing and can do yours, don't give them a deposit. SO then every legitimate contractor is also some kind of gypsy con artist that could be taking you for a ride. So you have to adopt a much higher standard. I will buy all the materials, install all this stuff and do all the things we talked about for this amount of money and if you don't like it don't pay me. Depending on how they react or the fact that the conversation has gone to that level then you can pretty much judge what you are dealing with. They either have the money or don't. And paying for everything isn't necessarily easy. Having things happen in a timely fashion can be seriously tough. Still how many people take orders based off a prototype and get a deposit versus the thing is already made, can someone sell it on consignment for me somewhere?

And you work when others won't. We worked Thankgiving day and still everyone got somewhere for a dinner. A helper that has been with me for 4 years hit me with one of my own lines, that turkey isn't paying you $60 today. Of course it made sense because there was bad weather coming a few days later. Every day I whip out a calculator and make sure we did or didn't do enough to meet the pre estimate. I have figures in my head of what everything costs and how much every step pays and it has to match or be slightly better than that. Meanwhile so many helpers are updating their facebooks status about some band or music or sports event. Their iphone isn't paying them $60 either. You have to focus on what is paying you. It is all a big balance, something you will do makes more than expected and other things something caused a delay and cost money. If you have a string of delays you have to plan where that next big spurt of productivity is going to come from. Still not gouging any customer, just always doing exactly what you said you would do and how you were going to do it.

Doing haunted houses has taught me lots of things. I will just all out like a crazy person tell someone exactly how to do something, how hard it is to do, how many years you have to move your hands like that to get good at it, what parts of your body you will need the chiropractor to look at after each step and then the responce is usually, well we want to pay you to do all of that. Just like you said. Some people will completely take over ownership and some want to keep you available. So you do business in a fashion that you can be as helpful as possible.

Plus if you did what you said, the results were what were expected or better, and you did work very hard to achieve those results, that isn't the kind of person you would go without paying. It is so much easier to have made the thing and there it is. As opposed to all the extra steps of deciding and customizing that isn't necessarily going to be thought to be worth a whole lot more money. Everyone always says you should charge more or something for this or that but in the real world, it is all kind of expected behavior rather than something that is premium pay. If you can do it one way why can't you do it another similar way for the same money? All kinds of levels of being of service that no one was willing to do or even considered doing. See if you get paid and have long term income from a project when you are saying things like the contract says I don't have to do that.

The quote for today is "just don't be retarded".

son-of-sam
12-01-2012, 04:19 AM
Greg you are a smart man. I am thinking how you got your off set genius is by putting your hand on the stove to know that it is hot. Most people[not all] learn by other peoples mess ups or even better your own mess ups to make you the person you are today. There is know problem with failing just as you learn from what you did wrong and you get better [I am pretty sure I read one of your threads that said pretty much that]. So I give you props but all people need to swim in the water to know how cold it really is. EXPERIENCE is what makes the best and brakes everyone else. Greg I love your posts if you REALLY read them they have mad hatter knowledge that is a must.

Greg Chrise
12-01-2012, 10:15 AM
It used to be there were only 3 to 5 channels on TV and all night long there were you can buy real estate courses for $300 and learn to buy things for no money down, then get a title one loan and pay yourself to fix up a house and then sell it for lots more than you paid for it or rent it out. One by one all of those guys proved to be a scam, went bankrupt and fled the country.

Haunted house guys thought they could roll into any town and in a month of TV ads have lots of customers having never been in that location before and pack up and leave with money.

Then the formula changed when there became 300 channels of TV and radio channels were taken over by corporations and the same 30 songs got played over and over for 10 years and now no one TV ad or radio ad is going to bring any veiwers or listeners.

So the Gypsy haunt theory became a total loss over years and years. Meanwhile a bunch of people focused more on developing the market in their areas and perhaps over many locations in a 100 mile radius. Until you have done the same thing for 15 or 20 years what really happens or what is good doesn't present itself.

Yet, pro journalists get right out of college and have never done anything in their lives and are the writers of business advice because the articles pay $150 a shot. Real journalists and writers compile and adapt the same topics over 20 years and include a history of 100 years and then whip out a book. There might have been 2 or 3 shots a year of making $150 an article as the thing was improved or different facets were tested for importance.

Also the regular persons experience isn't ever truely added to because no job lasts more than 5 years or 2 years or now lots of jobs they don't want anyone being around more than 90 days and want them to quit because they don't have to pay unemployment.

At some point I saw and you have to understand I have actually confronted some people face to face with why are they being sharks or doing things with rigged contracts, some guys that thought every season or two was a ast kill set up if they could just get a partner thought they would be the only ones that could take over places that had been around for 20 years. They thought how great it would be they could just spend a few hours on it a year and the rest of the time could be spent on their other projects. When in reality the 20 year guys are not sluffing off or have an easy ride and are a success because they spend many hours every day 300 days per year making things, repairing things and figuring out some new creative way to get the word out. It isn't you call a TV station or a radio guy and it worked like magic.

Now maybe an entirely new wave of what has to be done is upon everyone. Normally in hard times haunts did fine just like bars or other diversionary entertainment. Except now, people are really being taxed for every dollar at the grocery store, at the gas pump, with every utility bill and all these things you are supposed to have like cable and telephone and all these portable devices. It may have been the customers new haunted houses were sort of rag tag but fun and even the ones that put so much into detail come off a little cheezy. When every one actually had expendable income the thought might have been we know it kind of has limitations but we will go, what the hell it is only $20. But now it has come down to they are not paying $20 for something that is indeed a little sketchy. That $20 could buy a meal or 3 meals or has to.

Haunts got away from making things and presenting them to just finding junk or buying fancy things and trying to fit those thing into some theme that might not have fit. Randomness and just having the mind sparked by some inventory of crap doesn't work any more and I doubt this time the recession/depression is going to lift for a very long time. Haunts are reporting 30 less customers country wide with very few exceptions. Those exceptions are in smaller markets where there may not have been a haunt before and so there is a little excitement and people are curious about what a haunt is. On the other side of the scale haunts are spending lots of money and just got hit with the reality of a possible decline. It just got more complicated of how to do so much better with so much less.

The haunts that worked out great detail and customer entertainment only saw a 10% decline, the ones that bought lots of expensive toys you walk by saw a 30% decrease. The ones that did some changes and got ready just a month or two before opening also saw this 30% decrease. So it isn't easy anymore. Expenses are getting real for everyone. So the advice being offered really needs to be from someone that can get kind of real and has really done it.

Even I have a little place I go once a month and blurt out the deal of the month to people that have businesses and had haunts back in the 70's and here's the deal. Hell no! they will say. Long term experience things can be thought out in about a minute and a half tops. You can't help people that already know everything and read some book, they have to be left to go through the thing on their own if they aren't open to advice.

I have had people pop in and pretty much tell me they are tired of my diatribe. From what I can tell they didn't last very many years or more than one year and just didn't like what I had to say.

Mistress DeSade
12-03-2012, 09:55 PM
Talk to any ONE of the giants in the industry-from Larry to Cydney Neil to Ben Armstrong to Randy Bates. If you DON'T have a business plan-a mentor-or someone who knows business-you're never going to make it in the long haul. Period.

BrotherMysterio
12-04-2012, 12:56 AM
Talk to any ONE of the giants in the industry-from Larry to Cydney Neil to Ben Armstrong to Randy Bates. If you DON'T have a business plan-a mentor-or someone who knows business-you're never going to make it in the long haul. Period.

That is so incredibly true. That's the thing . . . if you're new, you gotta learn the craft - business and otherwise - and that comes not only from doing but also from having powerful mentors who have the Heart of a Teacher, and want you to learn and grow (Allen being a prime example). I can't even begin to think of how incredibly grateful I am that I have known so many knowledgeable and competent people in this business, especially a bunch of classic pro-haunters, and not only that but especially how many opportunities we have here in DFW, with all the world class talent we have. I know personally that I sit on the shoulders of many giants. That's also one of the great things about HauntWorld.com and other networking opportunities . . . it gives us so many opportunities to share knowledge and learn.

C.

Greg Chrise
12-04-2012, 03:19 AM
I'm just a midget that can type lots of words.

Over the years, all the DVDs and haunt magazine articles have all been very professional and politically correct. There is a difference in business style of whether you are managing money and cash flow and getting everyone on the same page as a business or the second style would be hands on building things that inspire others to participate.

In the second style of operation where you lead by example and here it is right here already built instead of concepts on a clip board, the total business plan is as follows:

Income
minus expenses
_____________

equals profit

If you are thinking of some large organization and big money to begin right off the bat, you might have to include sections in your business plan like asset allocation, exit strategy, refunding phase. The more complicated the array of responcibilities the more things that can and will go wrong or not happen in a timely fashion and kill your business. You can't dictate a market, you have to match an existing market. You can bend a market into being over a decade or so. How long can you hang unless you first observe the simple form business plan where you at least have income minus expenses equals break even. Sometimes just having exit strategies in the back of everyone's minds in a group is enough to not be productive enough to last a long time. What's the worst case scenario, you get paid early. Things get stacked more towards fail than go.

Major mind sets and opinions are based on whether it is your money invested or other people's money. Surely this kind of sets the tone for how big of an endevor you can manage. But does it fit the existing market for sure for real demonstrated on a profit and loss statement or are you selling an intangable concept.

No disrespect to any of the big names out there or Kathrine but not every location would even be tried if it came down to it has to work on paper first. Sometimes you just have to do it and how many show up is a real world test. In a way, all the big names had no idea what would happen in the beginning and in the early years just made it. I have talked to them and heard the real story and the real pressure of pulling off their first events. Later on they suggested to the world in educational materials that you have to have a business plan. That's a pretty sweet revelation that wasn't there in their beginnings that is somehow going to answer all the new people's problems. No one can properly come up with a business plan until the facts are in. The big names couldn't do it accutately either. That might be years down the line before you can fill in all the paragraphs and by then you don't need anyone else's money. Later a business plan discusses how to grow a business not declare you have a new product the world has never seen before.

There is an overall big time concern of whether there should be creditors at all in any time in the life of a business. People expecting return plus some fee or percentage or if it is better to start small and grow as the market allows. Quite simply going without percentages coming off the top or all profits going away to pay a debt is just not fun anymore. At some point being in debt makes it no fun anymore. So it is a personal choice to not go out of the box with a mega park and have something that buys lunch every day. Rather than even the lunch you just had was someone else's money that hasn't been earned yet.

Greg Chrise
12-04-2012, 03:34 AM
Somehow the topic always centers around the stupidity of whether you have written your business plan and made a portfolio of your work that doesn't exist or compiled a resume or filled out some stupid assed application or stood in some stupid assed line somewhere.

The real story is take a look at the type of organizations and what they say as well. Some of them are under SO much stress they are sick all the time and any time you say hello to them they are about to stroke out versus some of them can passionately stand in front of a room of people non stop passionately sharing what they can build with you for 10 hours and somehow hide the fact that they even use the bathroom.

How do you want to live your life. Do you want to build things and share them with the world and profit or do you want to invest in a brief case and clip board and check things off trying to accomplish everything on your daily planner. In different situations both those styles have their place and their calling. I can find the ones on the edge of a stroke and not wish that on anyone. Find your heros and understand their real story. Not just what has been issued in a press release.

Greg Chrise
12-04-2012, 03:46 AM
The economy is going to be so tight and strained for the next 10 years. How many people are making it managing other peoples money in that kind of climate? I would much rather be someone that can hands on do something and here is something I built and I will trade it for that chicken than someone that has to return a specified amount of profit to some investor by a certain date or else. The "or else" has a very high likely hood of happening.

Despite poor economies haunts do thrive but not in robust numbers and returns. Just like bars and sports events and everything else are reporting decreases in overall income. This is going to be the new normal. Smaller and profitable is better. Self invested is better. Or with loans that are more from angel investors where no return is expected. However usually at some point any investor goes along enough of a period of time and seeks the next investor be found and pay them out. It never stops if that is what you have begun to do from day one.

You can earn everything from nothing and build up. If you want to be a money manager, sure sell a business plan and show it to 200 people. For the most part everyone that is on these forums is more of the do it yourselfer. People that can do things. And people that know what kind of person to talk to, not a wild canvasing of 200 people and some car lot game of sales rejection. It all really comes down to do you wanna buy a ticket or not.

Darkangel
12-04-2012, 06:57 AM
All too often I read people being critical of Haunters that have moved away from their early years of dumpster diving and making their own props and instead now they buy props and animation etc. That confuses me, because why would scavenging people's junk and diving in a damn dumpster be something you'd want to do once you're successful? You mean to tell me that if a haunt is successful that its still better to make some crappy looking obviously home made garbage prop than to but a big animation from the Scarefactory of Gore Galore?

A successful Haunter and business man can buy props and animation and make it work for his/her theme it doesn't mean just because you didn't make it it's not going to fit. I've even heard from one lady this year say "I'm not going to that haunt they use a bunch of commercially available props and decor I'd rather go to one that makes their own" like THAT'S a bad thing? Really? Really? I'm thinking that you'd rather go to a haunt that looks like a mom and pop junk pile then to see a haunt that has the coolest pieces the industry has to offer in their arsenal? I mean lets be honest, if there was a Haunter who could make his own stuff look as good as what our vendors are making what's the likelihood that this guy could be equally skilled at actually scaring people or running a good haunt? Slim to none. To be that skilled in one spectrum usually means you're weak in the other skills you'd need to not only be a good Haunter but also a good businessman.

I say to utilize our skilled vendors and allow yourself the freedom to focus in marketing and running the show. You're successful now, you don't need to rely on junk and the dumpster anymore that's amateur stuff!

DA

BrotherMysterio
12-04-2012, 09:54 AM
All too often I read people being critical of Haunters that have moved away from their early years of dumpster diving and making their own props and instead now they buy props and animation etc. That confuses me, because why would scavenging people's junk and diving in a damn dumpster be something you'd want to do once you're successful? You mean to tell me that if a haunt is successful that its still better to make some crappy looking obviously home made garbage prop than to but a big animation from the Scarefactory of Gore Galore?

I say to utilize our skilled vendors and allow yourself the freedom to focus in marketing and running the show. You're successful now, you don't need to rely on junk and the dumpster anymore that's amateur stuff!

DA

How did you approach your own show when you managed the transition from your own prop making to utilizing more vendor products. I'm sure a lot of people on here would definitely like some insight on that, especially Bobby, who wants to become a vendor. I've often wondered about that myself. What did you guys use last year? Mostly your own props or did you start using more vendor props?

C.

Greg Chrise
12-04-2012, 10:58 AM
I'm sorry for your confusion but there are quite a range of people that are indeed capable of making things that actually are at Transworld that this year will be about 5 booths 3 isles over from Gore Galore and all of these people do infact make products that sell, are traded locally and they do marketing and running their business successfully quite nicely. They do act and can do it all because of passion. It is indeed possible to do every aspect of haunting and owning a haunted house. You are on the same token that being successful means you somehow lack in some of these skills and have to buy things. I sure hope and so does Gore Galore there are a lot of unskilled clients out there.

Part of the attraction of this business is the fact that you can do all of theses things. It still simply comes down to paying someone $2500 plus shipping or more for a certain product or building yourself one of similar quality yourself. Even big names like Larry K. announced he is going to be reentering making animatronics. Of course not all of the things made are as professional or as pretty as Gore Galore makes. I also don't think Gore Galores products give off that store bought look that a customer might say these guys are making lots of money and we should too. Or they are making too much money and I'm not going to give them anymore. Now if you have room after room of things the customers can only imagine as being tremendously expensive it can be a turn off. There should be a balance. There are also lots of used props out there that need repaired and reskinned. There are other brilliant ways of doing things without $500,000 to open up.

Pretty much the topics being discussed are about starting up from scatch and trying to go full time in the very first years. Your impression of mom and pop looks just because you made it yourself is not what many of these places looks like. Not what many people here are capable of. Actually it is getting harder and harder to find anything in a dumpster worth anything. You have to think outside the dumpster and get seconds in mass quantity before they hit the dumpsters. Just being very specific on what raw materials you can fashion something out of.

Still, you can be doing things like making everything Allen Hopps shows you how to do on Utoob and then there are so many things he makes that he isn't going to show you because they are pro products that do end up at Transworld and other booths and Utoob videos about that would possibly be creating the competition a little too easy.

If you want to twist things around, the ones that do not make it are not the makers, it is the people that want to own a business for the sake of owning a business. It is like that in any field. People compete because they can get $10,000 worth of equipment and supplies all the time and then discover it is lots of actual work they hadn't planned on. Sure you just hire managers for all of that. And there in lies a clue that people reveal about themselves. People decided to start a haunt and to me it feels like they have only been to one haunt instead of went to 100 to see what it is about.

None of the conversations on these forums get beyond borrowing money it seems. No one gets into what it takes to buy raw materials and products at wholesale and rather all you do get is what sounds and acts like fitting out a haunt with items another 100 haunts have in their videos. Or on the upper scale everyone mentions being inspired with the things Disney has added to their parks and attractions for years but, once you have seen a trillion dollars worth of stuff, do you go evey year or do you just say you have seen that, even though you might not have internalized very much at all. Haunts that used the Disney levels of detail declined in numbers too.

I'm suggesting elaborate props in moderation, great actors that do not break character, building a suspension of belief and as much detail as the near the dumpster finds you can manage to locate. All in the name of low over head. Low overhead doesn't mean it is crap or the quality of some old guy's bird houses being sold out of the back of a pickup at the gas station. You can make your own things and if it looks retarded, maybe you SHOULD go to transworld. A lot of people go into this because they saw something they could do. Not because they imagined being a money manager and a book keeper. Ultimately you have to do that too and be good at it. It takes time. Perhap a life time of trying and improving and complementing your haunt with things others have made. It is also like how many bands first record sucks because all 12 songs sound the same. A haunt can be drab because it isn't a mix of many elements.

It can be over the top retarded or just plain retarded and needs to be somewhere in the middle. And many need to be given credit for being able to hands on do these things. The only business oriented that pop up have no idea what people can do, do regularly and actually pay too much to lots of middle men for some props.

You have to get out there and see what people are actually making. It may involve that odd furniture piece found in a dumpster but, one way or another it comes down to either time or money invested even if you have all the skill sets. Which way is most productive for different kinds of people isn't how they think, it is whether they can find the market for their products or haunted event. And even then, yes you can make high quality things and do your own marketing and do your own book keeping. That is what being a successful business owner kind of entails.

If you are making lots of retarded things you won't make it. If you spend $500,000 your first year it might not work.

Another thing that might be confusing is that there are many that are constant start up people and get things going with little money and they do evolve as customer money comes in. You have done your job and got them started and moved on. They find more local talent that is actually talented, I'm not set on bad mouthing an major products but, it is a financial concern to do so. Especially with the internet and vidoes and even the media sugesting you just buy this stuff and have yourself a haunted house, the more original and diversified the better. Quite frankly there are a lot of successful haunts that haven't come up out of crap mode and still manage to spend all their money trying to make things. Or buying high dollar production equipment and making only 50 things that is just as equally inefficient. Things that drag out being a success.

Speculo
12-04-2012, 11:04 AM
Interesting point.

The goal should always be to create the best possible show based on your assets - Time, money, and talent. Take making masks for an example, Latex or Silicone -Sometimes making your own stuff is hubris - just because you have the basic skills make a mask will it be better than the best you can afford? Is a basic product you create really the best use of your time? Do you really have the artistic ability to make a better mask than you can buy? Unless a do it yourself project is based on true lack of funds, or a creative desire to make it yourself just to develop your skills is it going to get the best result for your customer?

You are the producer and you want the best you can get. Does the director of a major horror movie make his own monster? No he gets the best effects company he can beg - or afford to do it so that he can concentrate on his job - directing the movie.

Making your own things can be a fun thing to do, but sometimes you need to step back, look at what you made, and really ask yourself if working with an artist or buying from a vendor will get you a better result.

The customer doesn't see the journey they just see the result. And if you do not do the best you can with the money, time and talent you have available, then the result may not be as good as it can be.

Thanks!

Darkangel
12-04-2012, 01:34 PM
Seriously, how many people who own a haunt can make really cool things themselves? Few and far between. I for one would not buy a ticket to a haunt that was homemade and scavenged. We USED to be an industry of dumpster divers, that was 20,30 years ago now we actually have vendors and artists and tradeshows when back then we didn't.

Now I'm not against making some things because it is fun and a source of pride. But a haunt that's a do it yourself haunt almost always comes off as low budget and cheesy.


DA

BrotherMysterio
12-04-2012, 04:11 PM
Seriously, how many people who own a haunt can make really cool things themselves? Few and far between. I for one would not buy a ticket to a haunt that was homemade and scavenged. We USED to be an industry of dumpster divers, that was 20,30 years ago now we actually have vendors and artists and tradeshows when back then we didn't.

Now I'm not against making some things because it is fun and a source of pride. But a haunt that's a do it yourself haunt almost always comes off as low budget and cheesy.


DA

Well, again, I would ask, how do you approach things at your show, and what did you do this last season? If you give us real world examples of how you approached these issues, it would definitely shed light on your point.

As far as how many people who own a haunt can make really cool things themselves, well, Allen would be one. Any number of his compatriots here in DFW would be more.

C.

Darkangel
12-04-2012, 06:54 PM
I am not speaking as a haunt owner but more as a guest who spends money going to haunts that makes it worth it for me. To me it's more worth it going to a haunt that has all the cool things you see at Transworld right in their shows and to see the creativity on how they tie it all together.

As far as Allen yes he is talented and makes many things but none of the stuff I've seen are on the level as Scarefactory, or Distortions or Gore Galore and masks not close to that of CFX. I think Allen does a great job and has great videos on youtube showing home Haunters and small budget haunts how to build things on a tight budget. He is multi talented but its just not at the level the big vendors are on and that's ok but you can't be an expert on everything it's impossible.


DA

Greg Chrise
12-04-2012, 08:55 PM
Even living in Texas and not being from here originally, I have always said Texas was 20 years behind the rest of the country and maybe that is a comfortable thing to be. Who's high end prop appeals to you as a customer is kind of subjective. I sat here and tried to count how many haunts I am really in contact with and I came up with 14. Then in trying to address your question, all of them make something. One makes costumes, another had a lighting company and makes their own electronic programing circuits, another is a heavy scenic design contractor, 3 make masks and costumes and props, maybe 2 of them there should be an intervention to stop making things.

For the most part I'm kind of impressed. Many do buy all the props you mentioned, name brand items in addition to making things. Have you personally begun collecting $600 masks? DO you have props in the rec room that cost $2800 just because you believe they are cool? What, you haven't spent that kind of money ever and demand everyone else does for you? I'm just feeling some kind of math formula that if you see x amount of people for so much money each how many of these high dollar things do you get to have and destroy completely every year? And who's money is this now and what kind of party are we having? I kind of need to know.

This making things has become a cultural thing, not just a cost issue. Many of the haunted people have been around haunts in different capacities for more than 25 years. It isn't lack of skill that many chose to make things that just work and aren't spectacular. And what you don't see is how many people completely devote their off time learning to making things at each of these haunts. It is more of a life style and for 14 different haunts and more to be able to wander into each others shop and see what is happening, I think is kind of rare. Or to all gather and share is rarer still. There is an entire culture and as an owner you become aware of other payoffs beyond money the event made. You have taken individuals and let them play with set design, possibly make a product that is Transworld worthy and You just don't see how actors come up to you at the end of the season and thank you for making something so memorable in their lives. Many that previously had no opportunities were given a reason to live.

What you find attractive is subjective. In directing people to which haunt they should see and perhaps rank them for best experience, my top pick was one that hasn't been around for ever and has a core group of people that consider their location home to a degree most weekends. They don't have a single thing from Transworld, are located in what feels like a remote location even though there are apartment complexes over the next hill. The acting is great, the characters are almost all signature characters. It puts a smile on your face.

Everyone here originally had Verdun Manor and Thrillvania as a creepy standard and it has all the props of the day and high level Death Studios masks and so much more. People in the haunt community either worked there, even before anyone imagined it would be something one day. Still no one went off and copied it. Times changed, other products became available. But that high degree of things were made there kind of fashioned everyone that does haunting as almost a religious experience of you can do this.

So in this troup of freinds, there are former advertising people, people that have worked all year round haunts, the original kids from Verdun Manor, the original kids from Castle Dragon, pro sound recording people, former lighting companies, real artists, real sculpters, real industrial tech people, real engineers, robitics people, real event oriented people. Business start up and take over people, scenic design contractors and so on. Quite a blend of Phd level teachers in many current fields. All different ages, all different limitations.

I'm pretty sure there are similar hubs of like minded people cooperating in the Mid West, in California, around St.Louis, In Florida and a couple points in between. All the conventions that are operating and going to operate are an extention of that. Yet, no one person can be all things, and no one haunt cannot be the end all of everything. You really can't cut someone down for rallying serious levels of participation and appreciation in thousands of people's lives. That's what it is. I have spent some time questioning what you might consider product quality and so you just listed Distortions, Scarefactory and Gore Galore to name a few. Should everyone do exactly as they do or they aren't the shit? When many times something 1/6th the cost or 1/25th the cost is just right and is going to be in the dark anyhow? In a real haunt it is creepier to be kind of sketchy and that is entirely different that how cool something looks under the florescent lights at Transworld. I'm tired of going through haunts and some animatronic doesn't work and is just static forward like that is part of the show. And these kind of things just happen because very few machines can take 80,000 cycles and work flawlessly. So you added the entire dynamic of having 2 of everything just to make it all keep working.

I'm not jealous either, I spent 8 years working in material testing research facilities. Making test apparatus is pretty much building robots. I can do that if I saw it really fit. Maybe it is my exposure to machines that has me biased but all I see is something that breaks, is scary only because it might fall on you when it springs into action. Having a lot of them is like having 20 rooms per haunt and every room has the same drop panel scare.

So maybe what I'm seeing is you don't need one Mentor when you can have 80 mentors. The same situation can be had anywhere in the country for those willing to wander around where they are located.

If you want to see everything Transworld has to offer worked into some creative scene, You are going to have to travel to see the Darkness and Netherworld. There probably isn't one coming to a neighborhood near you unless you build it. Not every haunt aspires to be like them. Not every market can support their level of investment.

screamforadream
12-04-2012, 10:22 PM
Wow!!

Okay, so I've been following this on my phone (it's the week before finals and any free second I had I was reading up on here, or doing work for clients for my other business, so I apologize for not being overly vocal in this thread lately!)

Sitting back at my desk and re-reading all of what was said in this entire post, there are a few key things I really took away from EVERYONE'S input, and I'm going to attempt to find an even middle ground in the conglomeration of opinions and thoughts expressed. :)

I, ofcourse, had my own opinions and beliefs before posting this thread, but like any ignorant know it all, I know that I want to become less and less ignorant as time progresses, and I think it's fair to say that from what people have posted here is that there really needs to be a true BALANCE in every road you take to success in this industry.

When you try to open up, you shouldn't just spend lots of money and open up a haunt, or any business for that matter, you should get involved in other peoples businesses in some way shape or form, and try to learn through a bit of hard knocks about how the business is run, and find ways to work in your own personal ideas and "improvements" when you make the jump to opening up YOUR business.

There is NOT a defined way to do anything in this business, (which I subconsciously knew, but I was praying to be wrong haha), yes we have been around as an industry for a long time and in many different forms, but the vast array of things in which one can do make things all that much harder, since there are really so many options.

Some of the only definite things you need to have include:

-Basic Business Skills: setting a budget for yourself, being realistic in what you plan to do, and have a backup plan in case everything falls to shit, and above all, realize it takes time in order to make any real money.

-C&C: Craftsmanship and Creativity: You have to be able to know what you want, and how to make that happen, be it a prop you need an artist/vendor to make for you, or something you can plan out in some way, shape, or form, and do yourself.

-People Skills: Often overlooked, but so many people in this industry FAIL HARD because they don't know how to handle situations not only with customers, but with other employees. If you can't communicate and convey yourself properly, you stand little chance of succeeding in whatever your goal may be.

-Passion!: This is the most COMMON thing people in our industry have, and it is very important to have, but is a death trap if you don't have it. All of the big name people, although successful and consistently pulling in a six figure (sometimes more) sales total at the end of the month couldn't do it if they didn't have passion!! The passion to be the best! The passion to make money! Or the passion to WORK HARD! This is really an industry that thrives on an individuals passion to be the best they can be, if you don't have motivation, you cannot and will not do well in this industry. If you are a suit and tie, ultra conservative, proper, and afraid to get your hands dirty to put together a good haunt, you need to get back to walstreet or your cubicle and pray you don't get laid off when your company tanks and loses it's entire stock value.


That was just a summary of what I've gathered and am really taking to heart in this conversation, feel free to let me know if I missed something or am totally off, I can take it! :P haha

Going back to more opinions, when it comes to talking about "professional" this or that, or "expensive prop", and it's infliction's on a customers reaction in your haunt. WHO CARES?!? When I go through a haunt, all I want is to be scared. If I can get scared by a tin can, hats off to you, and if I see a giant puppet head try to eat me, you bet your ass I will GLADLY appreciate the work it took for ANY vendor to have made it! Sometimes it's the ratty, distraught, and TRASH props that come from a dumpster, a yard sale, or outta your ass that just make for a good scene, and a good scare! I would not be able to take a customer seriously if they complained about having an "expensive" look...really?! Is that a REAL complaint? Or is that some punk just being a punk??? It was either scary and did it's job or it wasn't your kind of haunt, but there's no way any customer goes through and tries assessing the dollar value of your attraction when you have too much good stuff! I would expect a complaint if they felt the attraction was not up to par, or sloppy with no real direction or scare factor, but too many high end props?? Let's be real. That's just one haunter being a little envious of another haunters pockets. But in the end, as long as you had a good time and could appreciate the time and effort someone put into their attraction, then who cares what money was spent to make it the way it was, it's all about the experience when you're going through. :)

That's all I have to say, and I'd like to ask just ONE thing of ANYONE who is posting after me, do NOT compare one vendor to another in a negative light. It's one thing to say Gore Galore makes the craziest and most epic giant heads around, and it's another to say that XYZ's work isn't as up to par as ZYX's. No matter the intention, it isn't polite and can be taken as disrespectful, even if not meant to be, so please try to refrain from saying things about another person's work that can be perceived as disrespectful. And I am NOT finger pointing or trying to be smug about anything, I wouldn't want to be told anything I did wasn't as good as someone elses, it's just not nice, all I ask is that we continue to play nice on here :)

BrotherMysterio
12-05-2012, 12:11 AM
I am not speaking as a haunt owner but more as a guest who spends money going to haunts that makes it worth it for me. To me it's more worth it going to a haunt that has all the cool things you see at Transworld right in their shows and to see the creativity on how they tie it all together.

As far as Allen yes he is talented and makes many things but none of the stuff I've seen are on the level as Scarefactory, or Distortions or Gore Galore and masks not close to that of CFX. I think Allen does a great job and has great videos on youtube showing home Haunters and small budget haunts how to build things on a tight budget. He is multi talented but its just not at the level the big vendors are on and that's ok but you can't be an expert on everything it's impossible.

But, again, I ask, how do you approach things at your show? That would probably yield the greatest insight.

As far as the companies you listed, I know of the work of all four companies you mentioned and while a goodly amount of their stuff is absolutely excellent, I've also seen examples of things which could have been done far more effectively at a mere fraction of the cost, and also I'm inclined to believe that a lot of this push towards "cool, high end, quality vendor stuff" is really more about the big bells and whistles stuff (like latex pulls that look like they came from Stan Winston or Rick Baker), and not, for instance, some of Gore Galore's excellent sound effects, or Fright Props excellent controllers or components for building pneumatics? Why is it always about big latex widgets that make noise and wiggle, and costs a witload of money?

As far as ScareFactory goes, I love their stuff. Absolutely love it. Coolest stuff ever. Until it starts to move, wiggle, and make silly noises. And then that's the point where you start wondering what else you could have spent that extra $10K on instead, vs. just $1K on a cool static prop (which, more often than not, could be made for about $100). I know people who can put together a great haunt for $10K in cost of materials. That's a second attraction to your even right there.

Case in point: a friend and I went to a major pro haunt. One of the biggest in the state. They had a $14K animatronic in one room (one of the big ones you mentioned), and a $7/hr stilt walker in the next. At $7 an hour, 4 hours a night, for a 25 day run, that's $700 for that character for the season. It would take 20 seasons (years) to amortize the cost of the $14K animatronic (iow, break even), vs. that spot being filled by an actor on stilts, as the next scene was. Three years later, she still talks about the stilt walker. She never even noticed the animatronic. (And this animatronic is an industry favorite! Go figure.) Me, I thought the animatronic looked kinda neat, thinking, "gee, someone did a good job of making a goofy looking animatronic out of some blocks of styrofoam and rigging it like a flying crank ghost or marionette. That must have been, like, a few hundred bucks? Neat!" If I had had any awareness that the thing wasn't a homemade haunt prop for a few hundred bucks, but rather an "industry standard costing $14K", I would have been appalled.

C.

son-of-sam
12-05-2012, 01:46 AM
One of the best haunted houses in my state[colorado] is made of alot of junk. The haunts ''boiler style'' room is entirely made of broken water heaters, old house heaters, old pipes and a hole bunch of throw away stuff he probably got from a demolition company. He also has totaled out vehicles that he got at the junk yard for nothing[maybe even haunt tickets because they are messed]! He even has static home made prop bodies that hang up and he has water with food coloring running down them like blood. He uses old fencing for some of his outdoor scenes and the fence is all weather rotted so it looks creepy. He uses old toilets ,sinks,cabinets,furniture and other odds and ends for his sets[some of the old weather beaten thrown out stuff looks like it belongs in an apocalyptic zombie, old beat up house scene for the best effect. This haunted house had maybe three pneumatic props and they make BIG money. It matters on how you use the junk and how dark your haunt is to make the throw away items the best stuff you have ever scene. He even has this room once you first walk in that has old computer monitors and old key boards and stuff that make it look like a control room. He has one old screen in the room that shows a video on the zombie break out that is going on in the city then after it is done an actor pops out and lets you in and that room looked awesome.

Darkangel
12-05-2012, 09:17 AM
The junk has its place for sure but when it's time for an interview they don't film junk and actors they film your Impaler.

DA

BrotherMysterio
12-05-2012, 09:26 AM
The junk has its place for sure but when it's time for an interview they don't film junk and actors they film your Impaler.

DA

You're kidding, right? You're talking about local news remotes? We have had tons of local news remotes here in DFW, and I don't think I've seen a single Impaler in one of them, but I have seen a ton of great actors getting great scares from patrons, along with actuals from manager and icon character interviews.

Which interviews were you referring to, and what did the remote team shoot when they did the remote at your show?

C.

Greg Chrise
12-05-2012, 10:32 AM
Maybe several years being in business you could consider all of these $4500 and $12,000 purchases as advertising expenses for big animated props. Each one becomes a media event promoting your event and perhaps in parts of the country where population can support these expenses this is what is happening.

The reality of the behind the scenes is you don't have 20 or 30 years of this thing working to pay it out. The mechanics die after a year and te skins all rip to shreads and become brittle in 2 to 3 years and then it becomes botched repairs trying to cover torn and ripped places. So this expendature is just money spent. It does help the economy because someone industrious can go to a haunt and find 30 things that need major repairs, if they have the money to repair them.

It is not the fault of the prop makers it is a one year impact purchase and there is quite a dissapointment factor after that. Usually what happens is the props and many actuators themselves become junk and 6 actuators are harvested from the junk and make 6 other smaller things happen. As a customer you might actually feel sorry for the haunt guy that his Gargoil was once beautiful and commanding and now it's head is seperated from it's body and still goes through the motions and the following year has a patch that looks like a hillbilly vinyl pool repair with moss glued on it.

There is also the plain and simple fact that it gets to be 115 degrees here in August and inside some of these haunts during set up time is like there are laws about locking your dog up in a car. There are simply materials limitations and no one has convinced me for our area it really makes or breaks a show when the population here is not what it mightbe in Virginia.

So like you are bitching about physics and making it sound like people are stupid and it isn't the case. Big animatronic shows are a freaking travesty and you better have $250K oer year to redo it all because it is going to have to be redone not because you want to give the best show for your customers, because it is all destroyed. 90% of the shows don't even make the $250,000 total gross one time and aren't expected to be able to grow to those levels. You can divide that by 5 catagories and that is all you have to work with. Or actually first take $50K off of that and live with it. SO you are also apparently stupid to have a smaller budget or come up with products that serve those smaller budgets.

It isn't even an argument, it is total misunderstanding and not having been around and really concerned or something like that? There is nothing stupid about finding ways to make things for the 90% or making people understand they might be stuck in that lower catagory of income. Instead what has come off perception wise is people think they can set up a bunch of animatronics in an old mall and make a million dollars. Larry keeps sighting some haunts in the middle of nowhere that see serious customer levels but there again, major amounts of land and years into it. Not first year out it was magic. The ones that are becoming impressive are building things that look great and last in their sets.

Still by definition, props and masks and costumes are part of the expendable budget. Every year there is only so much money and so much time to fill so many square feet. So you develop entire reams of knowledge on making things that are inexpensive to make and can be done quickly. It is work. It isn't a shopping spree and a stop to see old freinds at the bar. It's many times like walking into a failed garage and 30 cars are torn apart and you have to make it all work again and no one has any money until after the customers have come through. We are talking real conviction stuff here.

MDKing
12-05-2012, 11:40 AM
Let me chime in here...

There is some truth to what DA is saying. I know in our case, when the local news and media comes out it is often the animation they want to film. We would be out at 5am with a crew of actors in full costume and they end up filming the scenes with the huge monsters. We have at least a dozen large animated monsters and some are custom for us up until this past season. We also did a feature for an international story from AP and the after walking the reporter through, she was free to film whatever she wanted. She has us take her to all the scenes that had a giant monster in it because to her that was cool and they always look great on camera. Viewers expect to see actors in costumes but they don't expect to see huge animated monsters and that high level of production. Of course actors will still be featured and there are essential, and certain crews will prefer them over props, but from our experience the cameras love the monsters.

As far as building your own vs buying I don't think there is a right or wrong way. If you have the talent and the talent around you to create cool scenes and props that's great. If you need to buy and hire talented people to build it for you that is also great.
Also, Sometimes junk is exactly what a scene a theme calls for, whereas sometimes the scene calls for a giant animated prop as a distraction for a talented actor.

We hear from guests all the time that tell us they watch the youtube videos of transworld and check out the websites of the big vendors and they are familiar with the latest props and they come to our haunts to hopefully see some of them. The general public is much mor aware then they used to be. They see what is being offered and found in other haunts in other markets, and they hope to see it in their local shows as well.

Another point that was brought up what that there are some that are critical to those haunters who have a lot of props and animation. We have far more props and animation than any haunt around us and we've heard and read comments from other haunts that will say "we don't need to rely on animations to be scary" or all they are are props and no actors" etc etc. This is of course jealousy at play, considering we have as many as 60+ actors which is several times more than those same haunts have and we're easily 5 times scarier as we're told.

As a haunter you want to have all the weapons at your disposal, it really is all about balance!


Allan

BrotherMysterio
12-05-2012, 04:22 PM
It is not the fault of the prop makers it is a one year impact purchase and there is quite a disappointment factor after that. Usually what happens is the props and many actuators themselves become junk and 6 actuators are harvested from the junk and make 6 other smaller things happen. As a customer you might actually feel sorry for the haunt guy that his Gargoil was once beautiful and commanding and now it's head is separated from it's body and still goes through the motions and the following year has a patch that looks like a hillbilly vinyl pool repair with moss glued on it.

How's that for an idea? Instead of a haunt filled with junk recovered from the bottom of a dumpster, we have a haunt filled with junk that used to all be $14K props. ;)


As a haunter you want to have all the weapons at your disposal, it really is all about balance!

I couldn't agree more. Balance and creativity. It's all about what best serves the show, and best entertains the customer.

C.

Jim Warfield
12-05-2012, 11:17 PM
Here I assumed from "Day-One" that my imbalance was the entertainment my patrons came here seeking?
They still keep saying I am crazy!
Who's crazy? Who just paid who to see who's house?"
( I Very seldom take the time and energy to point this out, besides that , it would be rude and even possibly economically damaging to me next season)
Mad customers often return for another look and Revenge!
"We want a discount!"
Here, put on this pirate eye patch, half off admission now!

mrfoos
12-06-2012, 12:05 AM
The original question was about being "business orientated" "and what do you do to get that mindset?"

What does business mean? Google says "1.A person's regular occupation, profession, or trade."

What being business oriented means to me is creating and sustaining profitability. How much you spend doesn't matter so much as how much you get to keep. If you aren't making a profit it can't be your occupation for long. Does it matter how big your prop is? Does it matter who made it? Does it matter how many actors you have? Does it matter how much their masks cost? If you sustain a customer base that is willing to pay, and can do this year after year, and this is your "regular occupation" and you CAN'T be doing it wrong. WTH? ;)

BrotherMysterio
12-06-2012, 12:35 AM
The original question was about being "business orientated" "and what do you do to get that mindset?"

What does business mean? Google says "1.A person's regular occupation, profession, or trade."

What being business oriented means to me is creating and sustaining profitability. How much you spend doesn't matter so much as how much you get to keep. If you aren't making a profit it can't be your occupation for long. Does it matter how big your prop is? Does it matter who made it? Does it matter how many actors you have? Does it matter how much their masks cost? If you sustain a customer base that is willing to pay, and can do this year after year, and this is your "regular occupation" and you CAN'T be doing it wrong. WTH? ;)

I'm not sure I understand your post. Are you questioning Bobby's asking of the question, or the way he phrased it? Are you saying that it's a moot point or self-recurring inquiry cuz the nature of the definition is found in the simple defining of it? Kinda like "Q: what temperature is 'room temperature' . . . A: whatever temperature the room happens to be at the moment" or something like that?

I'm sure Bobby understands the nature of what it is to be business oriented since he is already a successful business man. I think he just wanted to know what mental strategies and best business practices proved befitting of a successful haunt owner or haunt industry vendor. While those considerations and his current profession as a DJ probably share much in common in that both deal with entertaining large numbers of people, I'm sure he would like to know any particulars unique to haunting and the haunt industry.

Based on previous conversations with him, that is what I take his meaning as, tho I'm sure he'd be happy to clarify.

As far as all the hubbub about size of one's props and so on, well that was really just a red herring. It ultimately gets down to what best serves the show, and what best entertains the customer. Tho, that said, I'm sure most shrewd business people would consider it bad business to have a significant majority of one's production budget tied up in expensive props bought at a tradeshow that may not make it into your show in time. That could prove potentially disastrous to a first time haunter with a big bank loan, or group of investors expecting to make a return on investment and a nice, sizable profit.

Incidentally, congrats on a successful first season. Onwards and upwards.

C.

screamforadream
12-06-2012, 01:14 AM
Thank you MrFoos, I appreciate your post. That is EXACTLY what I was trying to get out of this, and since my last post in this thread no one even acknowledged my catch up...lol.

Easy Chris, although I appreciate the kind words, MrFoos was dead on in his posting, don't jump the gun too quickly! Lol. Have a drink and watch a horror flick, soothes the nerves extremely well! Haha

It would make me happy to not read the word PROP anymore in this thread.

Like MrFoos pointed out, I just wanted to know what steps other people have taken in their journey to success, as well as things others have done or learned along the way to make themselves better business people in this industry. That's all. I don't care about who makes what or who bought what prop or what piece makes you all of a sudden professional....that's irrelevant to my original inquiries. I thought that a thread like this could benefit all those who read it. That's all. :)

BrotherMysterio
12-06-2012, 01:22 AM
Thank you MrFoos, I appreciate your post. That is EXACTLY what I was trying to get out of this, and since my last post in this thread no one even acknowledged my catch up...lol.

Easy Chris, although I appreciate the kind words, MrFoos was dead on in his posting, don't jump the gun too quickly! Lol. Have a drink and watch a horror flick, soothes the nerves extremely well! Haha

No, it's all good. I simply wasn't sure if he was questioning your definition, or simply supplying one. Either one has the potential to add value.


It would make me happy to not read the word PROP anymore in this thread.

I couldn't agree more. My only stance on prop-making is, it's handy in a pinch, but it alone doesn't define a haunt, either big or small.


I just wanted to know what steps other people have taken in their journey to success, as well as things others have done or learned along the way to make themselves better business people in this industry. That's all. I don't care about who makes what or who bought what prop or what piece makes you all of a sudden professional....that's irrelevant to my original inquiries. I thought that a thread like this could benefit all those who read it. That's all. :)

I think there is some sort of law of the universe that whenever someone asks a meat and potatoes question, invariably, somewhere along the way, someone is going to chime in with a bells and whistle answer (no pun intended), and a lot of haunters do likes themselves some fancy props.

And, while not you per se, invariably when the subject of making it in the haunt business comes up, someone somewhere says "to go pro, you need big fancy props."

C.

mrfoos
12-06-2012, 03:51 PM
I feel like I'm business oriented. Here are the general steps I took to do my 1st year "pro" haunt. Obviously I could go into great detail into each step but I'll spare you. ;)

Patrick's General Order of Planning:

1. Defined my three year business goal. I then assigned a monetary requirement to reach that goal. (My business goal was a sustainable haunted attraction.)

2. Decided how I could provide a unique entertainment event to reach that goal. (For me it was a haunted trail with a specific theme.)

3. Defined my target customers. (Local college students for me)

4. Estimated where/how I could reach my potential customers.

5. Came up with a sales pitch that would resonate with those people. (My specific theme.)

6. Came up with how to make sure they are satisfied with the ticket purchase. (General scenes and flow of haunt)

7. Setup a budget (staff, props, insurance, location, advertising). This included finding the source of funding. (For me it was credit cards. I know that's a controversial topic here but I don't regret it.)

8. Took all that and wrote it into a Business Plan. (My business plan wasn't for a banker... it was for myself first and for anyone I wanted to share my vision with second, like land owner. Mine was over 16 pages. I had a seperate Design Plan that was about 15.) There are so many details for a first year haunt I can't imagine trying to keep all those details in my head.

9. Sought out and found a location.

10. Customized my theme ideas with the location and budget. (Walking through at night helped)

11. Defined all staffing roles and began recruiting. (Casting calls)

12. Began advertisement campaign.

13. Began construction and purchasing for all scenes and props. (Tried to get bare bones scenes and props up for potential staff visits)

14. Finished the bulk of the work for the scenes.

15. Ran practice nights with staff.

16. Opened to the public.


I think I'll take the same approach my second year. I'll have more validation data to fine tune some of what I had to guess at before.

mrfoos
12-06-2012, 04:04 PM
As far as getting into a business mindset I would recommend LOTS of reading. Read, read, read. Business books, marketing books, histories of successful companies and entrepreneurs. Really the only way to grow your mind is exposing it to new ideas. This is advice I need to take myself. I use to read a lot but haven't in a few years. I feel like I have less ideas now than when I use to read a book a week. I'm going to start a new book tonight!

BrotherMysterio
12-07-2012, 09:20 AM
Obviously I could go into great detail into each step but I'll spare you. ;)

No, please don't spare us. Do, indeed, go into detail. Detailed real world accounts of success (and failures in many cases) are very valuable, and since the devil's in the details, those details could prove considerably valuable as well. Heck, you could start a whole new thread on it.


8. Took all that and wrote it into a Business Plan. (My business plan wasn't for a banker... it was for myself first and for anyone I wanted to share my vision with second, like land owner. Mine was over 16 pages. I had a separate Design Plan that was about 15.) There are so many details for a first year haunt I can't imagine trying to keep all those details in my head.

Perhaps the most important 5 sentences in this whole thread. I have tons of info and reams of paper on ideas and goals and visions, from the next private event I'll be working on or prop for said event that I'll be building, all the way to the Haunt Park I want to have within a decade, with 4-5 haunts, a midway, kid activities, concessions, a gypsy village, theatre, and so on (not to mention staging a Christmas event there the following month, and having year round events). Taken together, you could loosely refer to all of those designs and goals and objectives as a "business plan", being that they are plans about one's business.

The only thing I take objection to is telling a newbie with absolutely no experience whatsoever (haunt or otherwise) that all he has to do is get a "business plan software app", type in some absurd fictions into the fields, show it to a bank manager or unsuspecting "investor", and somehow that will magically give him a $150K slush fund to play with and go shopping with at the next trade show, cuz, afterall, "that's how all the pros do it."

But, by all means, we have to make plans and plan out our goals. Only, those plans need to stay flexible, ever-evolving, and open to change at a moment's notice. Iow, they need to be written in pencil, and not in pen, let alone in stone.


I think I'll take the same approach my second year. I'll have more validation data to fine tune some of what I had to guess at before.

"validation data" . . . another set of favorite words so often absent from discussions such as these. I hear a lot of theory thrown around; it's nice when we make a focused study of what actually worked, and, critically, what customers actually paid to see.


As far as getting into a business mindset I would recommend LOTS of reading. Read, read, read. Business books, marketing books, histories of successful companies and entrepreneurs. Really the only way to grow your mind is exposing it to new ideas. This is advice I need to take myself. I use to read a lot but haven't in a few years. I feel like I have less ideas now than when I use to read a book a week. I'm going to start a new book tonight!

. . . guerrilla marketing . . . books on creative endeavors from different but related disciplines . . . psychology . . . sociology . . . books on story telling . . . becoming a film buff in different genres that relate to haunts . . .watching the DVD extras and commentaries to learn about the creative process . . . catching the new Hitchcock biopic this week . . . hanging out at Home Depot and Lowe's for brainstorming sessions . . . avoiding like the plague any repurposed marketing materials that tell you that in your first year you will have 10's of thousands of customers, or telling you to tell that to the loan officer at the bank . . .

C.

mrfoos
12-07-2012, 09:48 AM
"validation data" . . . another set of favorite words so often absent from discussions such as these. I hear a lot of theory thrown around; it's nice when we make a focused study of what actually worked, and, critically, what customers actually paid to see.

I figured you'd like that part since I got the term from your "wantrepreneur" video. I think putting the validation concept on top of your business toolbox is the best thing I've learned here.

BrotherMysterio
12-07-2012, 09:52 AM
I figured you'd like that part since I got the term from your "wantrepreneur" video. I think putting the validation concept on top of your business toolbox is the best thing I've learned here.

Indeed. I'm 42 years old. I'm getting to a point where I am starting to only care about what works, and what can be validated before I blow big bucks.

Btw, I love what you did with your trail.

C.

Greg Chrise
12-09-2012, 02:01 PM
Dark Angel asked something that I have been thinking about for days. What's with all the dumpster diving and building things with little money, aren't you a success yet?

Very simply, if you actually pay people for doing work, acting, moving haunts, building things and generally provide employment, this alone might make you a success. Does it bring lots of money to you?? Actually in a lot of cases you can easily over spend and be in a long term hole and be paying out from other businesses for years. Not just 2 year or 3 years but try 20 years of judging how much has been done for others and just get lunch money every day.

Some of the haunts I support are charities, others people with money but the proper mind set to have a certain budget and others may have only related to me about half the money they really owe out of embarrasment. Often I go through the profit and loss numbers that have been related to me and there seems to be $100,000 to $140,000 a year that just disapeared and they have no money to pay for some service or an entire haunt until November when it makes money.

It is quite easy to spend all year long making and building and it does not equate to what can be made even supporting 5 locations in a seasonal business. So you have to evaluate what makes you a success. It comes down to being limited on what you can spend, how much travel you can do and how many thousands of hours you may put into something.

So actually having done it over and over, to me, something that costs $2500 and only 40 people genuinely are excited about it, means I paid $62 per customer to make $20 per customer. Or when I figure out one of my vendors is spending $53 per item sold and for others that amount might approach $800 to $1000, everyone has some old "that's just the cost of doing business" bullshit line. Somehow that money had to be made to begin with. And when you are supporting such things with money, you need to know and question the end result. Especially when making money is generally something requiring had physical labor and not magic. It's called not wanting to get screwed over and over and over.

In the real world, say you want to start a restaraunt and I'm just making up numbers, 200 people a night come and enjoy your wonderful dishes and it never varies in popularity. The profit might pay the staff and the overhead mortgage, utility costs and food costs. You got to eat because you own a restaraunt and the hidden accumulation of capital is only in the paying the mortgage. Any extra money you are having to buy new tables and chairs and carpeting just to keep customers coming and the prices of those items increase every year. When we moved into new offices the flooring cost $300. 6 years later it was $800. Of course we didn't increase how much me made times 3 in those years.

So being a success is more in the line of don't you have any money yet asshole, it is more in the catagory of have you genuinely helped anyone to do what they wanted to do with their life. For me that's where all the money went. Do I want to spend what could easily be worth $100 an hour of my time in some other industry, for some customer that is going to be involved for a half hour of their entire life visiting a haunted house or to someone that is going to make this a life style. Which perpetuates the market as a whole and only then makes what I do for a living possibly make $120 a year hard cold profit.

In many cases you are a success by just being able to continue and being clever enough not to have to fold because your behavior is ranking up too much debt or expenses piling up.

All these stupid articles about owning your own business tell you to have 2 to 3 years of the total money saved and then spend that. So like who benefits from you spending all your savings? Everyone else. What's the difference from bootstrapping everything and everone benefits all along only you never lost a quarter million dollars over a long time.

Haunted house things are something I have seen people make money with something that was only 12 foot by 20 feet. Then see that worked and jump to 8,000 SF then add 4,000 SF to that and then consider buying the building or bigger land somewhere. Still the original formula takes a few years to understand and it is different for any town. Just bowing lots of money has a high likely hood of just being that and not knowing why it didn't work. Or having any appreciation for what it took to make the original sum of money. SO what if you ruin you credit for the rest of your life, it sure was fun right? No, it was stupid.

I really don't care what some arm chair hater has to question. Someone only marginally involved in things and easy to critisize. Not everyone is really cut out to be an owner or a contractor and the language people like that speak is entirely different than someone that wonders when is pay day and how many hours do I have to put in for that. Actually the owners wander around and might not consider their own hourly wage on something at all. OR worry about being compensated at all. Just seeing some half baked thing work is the pay off. IS the fun, is the life style. And I have had "the talk" with a lot of new haunters that are in their 3d or 4th year, but we can't pay our many people $50,000 a year full time off this seasonal thing! How about $20,000. Who said you needed to make $50,000 a year or you could make that. Welcome to the life style of owning a haunted attraction.

That would be a great gig if you really only had to move your hands 4 months out of the year and made $50,000 per year. Except that doesn't exist anywhere so why would you expect owning a business was going to do that for you.

SOme people do make money and they are doing by scamming helpers, scamming investors, scamming suppliers, and everything they do is a score and when the money comes to them it is THEIRS and no one esles. On the other side if you do what you are supposed to do, both morally and for long term, a seasonal business has seasonal income. The only way you can increase your income is to have hundreds of things going on rather than just one thing. In reality it is all so scattered and has potential but what really happens is not plannable until it happens and pays off, so spending time listing crap out is not adding to your possible pay off at all. You get paid by doing so, only do.

Greg Chrise
12-09-2012, 05:51 PM
Another major point I missed is that many small business owners, do not get paid until that major asset, the restaraunt building or whole business is sold. Or in the case of a haunted house, the property is sold. The haunt itself may have a very insignificant value as used building materials and devices, the end game is that there is some asset that everything worked toward developing.

If you can do all of this with out a loan whereas the term of the loan pretty much is signing paying twice the dollar value of what ever the loan is, the less you have to actually work and demand everyone else to work before that end asset is accumulated. Still a haunt event and the knowledge of how to do that might only have a total value of you can do it, it might never develop some major asset. The activity never stops. There is no big pay off. Retiring is not really retiring with some big saved pension, it is more like just quitting and having to go do something esle.

So to some this freedom and the end limitations are completely acceptable. To others, it is foolishness if there is something else they enjoy doing that can pay more or develop more asset value. The entitire how you make money is borrow lots of money and go big to me is just accepting some kind of slavery. A slavery with no end in site where the end game is you lose everything or are listed as some criminal for not completing loan agreements. Or habitually pay things late.

The entire act of channeling multiple streams of income into one thing that has no asset value what so ever is the reality for many. Plain and simple. Every transaction benefits someone else. So now what does that actually buy in the end. A place in posterity? Well thought of by a few and critisized by many? What. It isn't money. Still financially it is no different than buying fancy cars, boats, a McMansion a swimming pool, a european vacation, a summer home, what ever. Something you really don't need and may actually lose money on but it is part of your life style. So such things are supposed to be the spoils of being productive, they aren't supposed to be just because everyone else is doing it and so you take on a loan. Your loan value is always twice to 3 times the cost with insurance and the resale value is half or a third what the retail price was.

Still you do these cycles of business to eat and pay bills over and over. In comparison the guy with the regular paycheck might be really proud of that amount the paycheck says but for some reason every few years they are unemployed for long periods of time so even that real life income amount is half of what it could have been. So it is just an assumption that the other guy must be so much more successful and it isn't. The only way you can rank it is do you have to work 80 hours a week because someone told you to do something over and over or are you doing it because you like what you are doing. And occasionally you can go without working at all if you met your quotas. With a job, you got in debt to have a degree that says you can do that one thing and even when the quotas are met you are expected to hang out for 50 hours a week and look productive somehow.

So can you really be productive if someone wasn't telling you what you are supposed to be doing? Or would you routinely be looking for the next cycle of refunding. Well, things that don't need constant refunding are making money from the day they launch. Maybe not serious profits but at least covering all the expenses and costs. SO why not do it the other way. What kind of carrot are you going to chase when it all comes down to doing something every day that results in at least X amount of money. The problem seems to be always things that are supposed to make X to the factor of 5 or 10 seem to be very short term activities and possibly a scam.

Scams are met with all kinds of retribution so you might make a million dollars but lost it in legal fees and fines. So it is better to make a million over a very long period of time treating everyone involved with some kind of value. If you do that immediate success is not obvious.

Deathwing
12-09-2012, 07:26 PM
A good read but Greg are you a writer? Every post is like 5+ long ass paragraphs lol

But seriously lots of good points from all of you.


Jake

Jim Warfield
12-09-2012, 07:42 PM
Reading about famously successful and rich people from say, 100 years ago or more, many of them could not sustain the ability to keep making the big money. And the few that sort of did that also many times ended up broke as some "Sharpie" took their fortune in some scam. Maybe the rich guy was that desperate to grab the big money again, and nothing else was now working for him?
All haunters and haunter wanna-bees should read about P.T. Barnum's life. He was incredible! He knew how to often circumvent critical people that came after his basic business model whether it was him showing an actual black slave woman, purported to have been George Washington's nanny (and she was property to Barnum) Or how he cleared the idlers from his museum by just posting one mysterious sign, he had incredible lighting effects on the outside of his building in 1842 that seemed to be neon lights!?
He went broke, regained his fortune by becoming a concert promoter, long before even The Rolling Stones were born!
He made a fortune with his famous Circus as it traveled across a new , frontier land with few roads, and even bridges. Back in those olden times he advertised by posters nailed up 40 miles away from where the Circus would be appearing and people traveled that far just to see his show(Horse, Horse& buggy, how easy or fun would that have been?)
David Buick patended the process to adhere porcelin to cast iron , creating the modern bathtub, he sold it, took that money and built Buick cars, sold that and a few years later froze to death in an alley as an alcoholic!
The Vanderbuilt fortune was built upon junk bonds and other worthless pieces of paper he sold to suckers who lived across the river from him and could not legally make him make good or pay them back!
Former President Grant was broke, had mouth Cancer, but wrote his civil War book in extreme pain and discomfort so his family would be supported after he died. He was the first person to use cocaine as a pain reliever, and his book was extremely accurate and famous as a historical record. He had an incredible memory for everything.
My Dad's old neighbor had inherited a lot of money from his sister. where did she get it? From empting the waste basket everyday for her Boss who knew what shares of stock to buy better than most people did. Those millions are waiting to be dispursed to the city of Mount Carroll as his last heir dies and is to be used to build a city teen/youth center.. or maybe to rebuild the local haunted house, the Ravens Grin Inn? (ha ha ha!)

Dark Tiki Studios
03-10-2013, 02:06 AM
He is quite amazing, isn't he? ;)



Well, based on everything I've seen and learned, I've come to one particular conclusion...


Can't afford to buy 100 zombie masks? Make your own.
Can't make your own? Use minimal make-up and keep your actors in the shadows.
Can't afford to buy 100 zombie costumes? Hit the thrift stores and start distressing.
Can't afford theatrical lighting? Use a few landscape spots for $6 from Lowe's, or use Allen's LED minispots.
Can't afford to theme a complete circus motif? Paint every other wall panel a primary circus color and throw in some LED multi-color Christmas lights bought on clearance.
Can't afford the paint? Leave things rustic, or get unused, recycled paint.
Can't afford plywood for walls? See if a construction company can dump their discards at your location, which saves them on dump fees at the local landfill.
Still can't get plywood? Use two discarded pallets for a wall panel. Instant Ridley Scott effect.
Still can't do walls? Use a nearby patch of woods and do a trail of terror.
Can't afford animatronics? Use puppetry were applicable.
Can't afford a lot of cast? Use multiple scare zones that allow a few actors a lot of scare opportunities.
Can't afford a proper strobe light for $40 a pop? Make one for $5.
Can't afford corpses? Put them in body bags.
Can't afford a full sound system? Use MP3 players and computer speakers.
Can't afford to do a full season haunt? Find a charity that needs a fundraiser and do a halloween event that can turn into a haunt.
Can't make a haunt happen no matter what you do? . . .

. . . THEN HELP SOMEONE ELSE WITH THEIR HAUNT!!!!

You won't find these sorts of solutions listed in books on how to file LLC's or how to write "business plans, and other assorted fictions". You come up with these solutions when you are obsessed with doing something haunt related, no matter what.

This is how you learn the craft. This is how you become a pro-haunter.

C.

I believe this might possibly be the greatest post ever made on how to become a pro haunter.